Migrants approaching the U.S. border from Mexico were enveloped with tear gas Sunday after a few tried to breach the fence separating the two countries.
U.S. agents shot the gas, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem.
Mexico vowed Sunday to deport about 500 migrants who tried to ‘violently’ and ‘illegally’ cross the U.S. border, according to the Mexican Interior Ministry in a statement.
The statement added that Mexican authorities had contained the protest at the crossing between Tijuana and San Diego and that, despite heightened tensions there, Mexico would not send military forces to control 7,417 migrants from a caravan currently amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Honduran migrant Ana Zuniga, 23, said she saw migrants open a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.
‘We ran, but when you run the gas asphyxiates you more,’ she told the AP while cradling her 3-year-old daughter Valery in her arms.
Mexico’s Milenio TV also showed images of several migrants at the border trying to jump over the fence.
Yards away on the U.S. side, shoppers streamed in and out of an outlet mall.
U.S. Border Patrol helicopters flew overhead, while U.S. agents held vigil on foot beyond the wire fence in California.
The Border Patrol office in San Diego said via Twitter that pedestrian crossings have been suspended at the San Ysidro port of entry at both the East and West facilities.
All northbound and southbound traffic was halted.
Earlier Sunday, several hundred Central American migrants pushed past a blockade of Mexican police who were standing guard near the international border crossing.
They appeared to easily pass through without using violence, and some of the migrants called on each other to remain peaceful.
They convened the demonstration to try to pressure the U.S to hear their asylum claims and carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags while chanting: ‘We are not criminals! We are international workers!’
A second line of Mexican police carrying plastic riot shields stood guard outside a Mexican customs and immigration plaza.