During a Monday phone call for reporters, Homeland Security officials said about 6,000 Central American migrants have already reached the border at Tijuana, and between 8,500 and 10,500 are still trekking north in at least three separate caravans. San Diego’s San Ysidro Port of Entry can process only about 100 asylum seekers per day, so the thousands waiting and still traveling will have to be handled over a period of many months.
One official said the caravan is comprised of thousands of people who are “most likely not eligible for asylum.” He said most are older teenagers or adult males, not families and children as some in the media reported. “Many if not most are simple economic migrants seeking to be reunited with families [and thus] ineligible for asylum,” he said. The official further noted the presence of more than 500 criminals in the border crowds. “All legal options are on the table and we have been negotiating with all our partners in central America with ways to deal with the caravan," the official said.
The Border Patrol yesterday temporarily closed all vehicle entry lanes at San Ysidro after officials received reports of a possible attempt to rush the lanes on foot. While closed, staff installed additional barriers and razor wire in the lanes to prevent such an attempt. One Administration official said the president will likely give U.S. troops authority to protect Border Patrol personnel if they come under threat from the migrants. Currently, the troops do not have such authority.
Over last weekend, hundreds of Tijuana residents began protesting against the masses camped out. Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum is considering a referendum that would allow residents to determine whether they should be allowed to stay. Mexico had offered the migrants asylum but less than 2,700 have applied thus far, according to the Interior Ministry. Instead, most appear to be counting on requesting U.S. asylum to gain a foothold in the U.S.
About 100 miles away in Mexicali, where over 1,000 migrants have converged, Mexican police blocked migrant buses from proceeding to Tijuana. They were told that city is already over capacity and asked to wait in Mexicali shelters.
Updated: Tue, Dec 4th 2018 @ 3:05pm EST