Thu | May 23, 2019

US hardens border at Tijuana to prepare for migrant caravan

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this Nov. 2, 2018 photo, Central American migrants who hitched a ride on a flatbed truck jeer at members of about 50 LGBTQ migrants who are also part of the caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, on the road to Donaji, Mexico. For the dozens of transgender women and gay men, the journey has meant putting up with insulting catcalls and even some physical abuse. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)


The US Government said it was starting work on Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico.

Customs and Border Protection announced it was closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California.

It said the closures were needed "to install and pre-position port-hardening infrastructure equipment in preparation for the migrant caravan and the potential safety and security risk that it could cause."

The caravans became a campaign issue in US midterm elections and US President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of more than 5,000 military troops to the border to help fend off the migrants. Trump has insinuated without proof that there are criminals or even terrorists in the group.

To the thousands of Central American migrants making their way towards Mexico's Pacific coast state of Nayarit, the prospect of meeting a hostile reception at the border is nothing new.

After a month on the road, through three countries, migrants like Maribel, 22, from La Ceiba, Honduras, are used to tough conditions.

Maribel, who did not want her last name used for fear of reprisals in Honduras, pushed a baby carriage with her one-year-old daughter while her husband pushed another with their three-year-old son along a highway leading from Guadalajara to the Nayarit capital of Tepic.

"We are well aware of everything Trump has been saying," said Maribel. "Let them close whatever they want to close, but we are going to get through anyway."

The thousands of Central American migrants left shelters in Guadalajara early Tuesday and were taken by bus to a highway tollbooth to wait for rides to their next destination.

They thought other buses would be waiting for them to take them through hurricane-ravaged Nayarit to the neighbouring state of Sinaloa, further north. But no other buses showed up and few trucks passed to pick them up, leaving many to walk.