The U.S.-Mexico border at the San Isidro Port of Entry was closed in both directions for more than five hours on Sunday after hundreds of migrants rushed the area, prompting federal authorities to launch tear gas in an apparent attempt to get the group to disperse.
United States authorities said the migrants tried to breach the border at multiple locations, leading to a number of assaults on Customs and Border Protection personnel and dozens of arrests.
The chaos left pedestrians on both sides of the border stranded, snarled freeway traffic for miles and prompted the closure of a nearby outlet mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the season, all as helicopters circled in the sky.
The confrontations highlighted the escalating tensions along the border as thousands of migrants from Central America poured into Tijuana in recent weeks seeking U.S. asylum. President Trump has pushed to keep any migrants in Mexico as they await the immigration process.
Following Sunday’s events, the Mexican Interior Ministry announced it would deport about 500 migrants who tried to “violently” and “illegally” cross the border. A Mexican federal police officer said that authorities were reviewing videotape of the confrontations at the border and would be detaining and deporting those involved.
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 the thousands of migrants from a caravan currently amassed at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The San Isidro border crossing is one of the busiest ports of entry in the world, with more than 90,000 people crossing between San Diego and Tijuana on a daily basis. Two other ports of entry in Otay Mesa and Tecate remained open.