U.S. Customs and Border Protection briefly closed California’s San Ysidro border crossing Monday.
San Ysidro, writes USA Today, is the busiest land port along the U.S.-Mexico border. Customs and Border Protection temporarily halted northbound traffic for more than three hours, apparently in fear that members of a migrant caravan might try to force their way into the country.
Agency officials claim to have received reports that the migrants—who are camped out just meters from the border—were planning to “rush illegally” into San Diego.
“CBP officials suspended operations to safely place impediments at the port of entry that would restrict access to a large groups [sic] attempting to run through the border crossing,” a CBP statement said.
Unfortunately, some members of the caravan are purposely causing disruptions at our border ports of entry. There is a legal and illegal way to enter the US. We have deployed additional forces to protect our border. We will enforce all our laws.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) November 19, 2018
On Friday, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said he expects the number of migrants on the Mexico border to continue growing. The caravan’s membership could rise to 10,000 within the coming weeks.
Scuffles have already broken out in Tijuana, with residents shouting slogans and demanding that migrants leave their neighborhoods.
Gastelum says the city, abutting the U.S.-Mexico border, may not be prepared to handle an “avalanche” of migrants.
President Donald Trump previously likened the caravan to an invading army. In the days leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Trump ordered troops to the border and told troops to open fire on any migrants or protesters caught throwing stones at American forces.
U.S. military personnel, who’ve been deployed along the border to offer surveillance and logistical support, purportedly helped erect barriers.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said the raising of blockades was performed “appropriately.”
“Unfortunately, some members of the caravan are purposely causing disruptions at our border ports of entry,” Nielsen tweeted Monday. “There is a legal and an illegal way to enter the US.”
USA Today reports that, as of midday—and now evening—no migrants attempted to make a dash from Tijuana into San Diego.
But the Department of Homeland Security insists that its precautions weren’t unwarranted.
“We have identified more than 500 criminals travelling with the caravan flow,” DHS officials said, claiming that organizers “are pushing women, children and LGBT community members to the front of the caravan for positive PR.”
The closure, writes USA Today, lasted for about three hours and ten minutes. The San Ysidro port of entry includes 26 booth to process incoming vehicles as well as 36 pedestrian-only lanes. Half of the walk-across lanes were ‘temporarily closed’ but all were reopened by midday.
Throughout the exercise’s duration, American vehicles were allowed to proceed south across the border and into Mexico.