Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans arrived in Tijuana by the hundreds Wednesday, getting their first glimpse of the robust U.S. military presence that awaits them after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of troops to the border.
Several hundred people from the caravan got off buses and made their way to a shelter on the Mexican side near the border to line up for food.
Doctors checked those fighting colds and other ailments while several dozen migrants, mostly single men, spent the night at a Tijuana beach that is cut by a towering border wall of metal bars.
Several Border Patrol agents in San Diego watched them through the barrier separating the U.S. and Mexico.
The first wave of migrants in the caravan, which became a central theme of the recent U.S. election, began arriving in Tijuana in recent days, and their numbers have grown each day.
Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans arrived in Tijuana by the hundreds Wednesday. A migrant scales the wall above
Two Central American migrants walk along the top of the border structure separating Mexico and the United States Wednesday in Tijuana, Mexico
Israel Celaya, of Colon, Honduras, washes off in the Pacific Ocean along the border wall separating Mexico and the United States in Tijuana, Mexico Wednesday
A few migrants sit on top of the border fence as patrol boats are seen in the background along the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana Wednesday
A Central American migrant sits on top of the border structure separating Mexico, left, and the United States, right, as U.S. Border Patrol agents look on, right Wednesday
Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) stand guard behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, as seen from Tijuana on November 14
Central American migrants moving towards the United States in hopes of a better life, are seen near the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, on November 14
U.S. Border Patrol agents, left, speak with two Central American migrants as they sit atop the border structure separating Mexico and the United States, Wednesday
A migrant, who claimed not to be part of the Central American migrants moving towards the United States in hopes of a better life, walks on the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, on November 14
A migrant walks on the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Playas de Tijuana Wednesday
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday he will visit the US-Mexico border, where thousands of active-duty soldiers have been deployed to help border police prepare for the arrival of a ‘caravan’
Central American migrants move towards the United States along the border fence in Tijuana, Mexico
Migrants moving towards the United States in hopes of a better life on November 14
A migrant is seen Wednesday. Many of the new arrivals were waiting in Tijuana for the caravan leaders to arrive and provide guidance on their immigration options to the U.S.
Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit stand guard behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico November 14, 2018
The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles from the border, but has recently been moving hundreds of miles a day by hitching rides on trucks and buses.
Many of the new arrivals were waiting in Tijuana for the caravan leaders to arrive and provide guidance on their immigration options to the U.S., including seeking asylum.
Some said they might cross illegally.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, meanwhile, visited U.S. troops posted at the border in Texas and said the deployment provides good training for war, despite criticism that the effort is a waste of taxpayer money and a political stunt.
Most of the troops are in Texas, more than 1,500 miles from where the caravan is arriving.
Earlier on Wednesday, retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake on Wednesday called Trump’s deployment of active duty troops to the border a ‘stunt’ without justification.
Flake, whose southern border state seat is being filled by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, picked up a word that former President Obama also used in the final days before the mid-terms, after the military started sending thousands of troops to confront the immigrant caravan on Trump’s orders.
‘I think it’s unfortunate that we have the soldiers there,’ Flake told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’
‘Frankly in Arizona they are stationed in Tucson about 90 miles from the border,’ he added.
Flakes comments came as the military began ‘hardening’ the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan trekking inexorably toward the border.
The first arrivals generally received a warm welcome from Tijuana, despite the fact that its shelter system to house migrants is at capacity.
The city’s secretary of economic development has said there are about 3,000 jobs for migrants who want to stay in the city.
Some residents came down to where the men were camped on a beach and gave them tacos to eat Wednesday.
The Central Americans in the caravan are the latest migrants to arrive in Tijuana with the hope of crossing into the United States.
The first arrivals generally received a warm welcome from Tijuana, despite the fact that its shelter system to house migrants is at capacity. Migrants are pictured Wednesday
Central American migrants are seen siting behind the US-Mexico border fence Wednesday
Migrants from a caravan of Central Americans mainly from Honduras congregate on the border fence in Tijuana November 14
Tijuana shelters in 2016 housed Haitians who came by the thousands after making their way from Brazil with plans to get to the U.S.
Since then, several thousand Haitians have remained in Tijuana, finding work. Some have married local residents and enrolled in local universities.
‘Mexico has been excellent; we have no complaint about Mexico. The United States remains to be seen,’ said Josue Vargas, a migrant from Honduras who finally pulled into Tijuana on Wednesday after more than a month on the road.
Ilse Marilu, 24, arrived in Tijuana late Tuesday with her 3-year-old daughter, having joined the caravan with a large contingent from San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
She walked several miles Tuesday in a fruitless search for space in a migrant shelter before reaching the beach plaza.
A Mexican couple dropped off a tent that her daughter and three other children used to sleep in as an evening chill set in.
She planned to stay in Tijuana until caravan leaders arrived and offered help on how to seek asylum in the U.S.
‘We are going to enter through the front door,’ Marilu said, insisting she would never try to enter the country illegally.
A few people pitched tents at the Tijuana beach plaza while most, like Henry Salinas, 30, of Honduras, planned to sleep there in the open.
He said that he intended to wait for thousands more in the caravan to arrive and that he hoped to jump the fence in a large group at the same time, overwhelming Border Patrol agents.
‘It’s going to be all against one, one against all. All of Central America against one, and one against Central America. … All against Trump, and Trump against all,’ he said.
On Tuesday, a couple of dozen migrants scaled the steel border fence to celebrate their arrival, chanting ‘Yes, we could!’
One man dropped over to the U.S. side briefly as border agents watched from a distance. He ran quickly back to the fence.
Tijuana’s head of migrant services, Cesar Palencia Chavez, said authorities offered to take the migrants to shelters immediately, but they initially refused.
‘They wanted to stay together in a single shelter,’ Palencia Chavez said, ‘but at this time that’s not possible’ because shelters are designed for smaller groups and generally offer separate facilities for men, women and families.
But he said that after their visit to the border, most were taken to shelters in groups of 30 or 40.
On Wednesday, buses and trucks carried some migrants into the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California and farther northward into the border state of Sonora.
Migrants, part of a caravan of thousands trying to reach the U.S., sit on top of the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Wednesday
‘We don’t know where the caravan – if it makes it north, is going to come,’ Flake said. However above migrants can be seen speaking with troops having reached the border
The first migrant caravan advances through the northwest of Mexico as the US has reinforced its military presence at the border
The Rev. Miguel Angel Soto, director of the Casa de Migrante in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan, said about 2,000 migrants had arrived in that area.
He said the state government, the Roman Catholic Church and city officials in Escuinapa, Sinaloa, were helping the migrants.
The priest said the church had been able to get ‘good people’ to provide buses for moving migrants northward.
He said 24 buses had left Escuinapa on an eight-hour drive to Navojoa in Sonora state.
Small groups were also reported in the northern cities of Saltillo and Monterrey, in the region near Texas.
About 1,300 migrants in a second caravan were resting at a stadium in Mexico City, where the first group stayed several days last week.
By early Wednesday, an additional 1,100 migrants from a third and last caravan also arrived at the stadium.
Like most of those in the third caravan, migrant Javier Pineda is from El Salvador, and hopes to reach the United States.
Referring to the first group nearing the end of the journey, Pineda said, ‘if they could do it, there is no reason why we can’t.’
Mexico has offered refuge, asylum and work visas to the migrants, and its government said Monday that 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status.
Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.
‘You can’t call it anything but a stunt here, and it’s unfortunate that they’re going to be away from family during the holidays coming up, and we just don’t know what really for.’
His comment followed a New York Times story by a reporter embedded with the newly-arrived troops who are living in tents without electricity as the caravan makes its way north, with the expectation they will be away for the holidays.
‘We don’t know where the caravan – if it makes it north, is going to come,’ Flake added, the Hill reported. ‘I think it could be handled by civilians that we have there in terms of Border Patrol and others. So I don’t know what I could tell them other than that we shouldn’t be doing this, and this wasn’t an issue that Congress was involved in, it was an executive decision.’
On orders from President Trump, the Pentagon dispatched thousands of U.S. troops to the southern border
US marines place barbed wire atop fencing along the United States-Mexico border in San Ysidro, California, on November 9, 2018
Migrants from poor Central American countries -mostly Hondurans- moving towards the United States in hopes of a better life, are seen near the U.S. border in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, on November 13, 2018
The main caravan tacked westward after departing Mexico City, opting to add several hundred miles to their trek rather than attempt a crossing into Texas, as had been anticipated in the days before the elections.
The main body of some 7,000 is now in Jalisco state, about 1,300 miles from Tijuana.
The U.S. responded by rushing troops to California, closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego to lay barbed wire.
Some early arrivals believed to be part of the caravan arrived in Tijuana and climbed a tall border fence near San Diego. Their presence can be seen on video.
Retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R, with Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons) called the decision to send U.S. troops to the southern border a ‘stunt’
People on the Mexican side of the border could be seen climbing the fence near Friendship Park Tuesday afternoon after part of the Central American migrant caravan arrived in Tijuana
A few people who jumped the fence were quickly apprehended by Border Patrol
US Customs and Border Protection agent Tekae Michael walks inside the Border Infrastructure System which separates the US from Mexico with a fence and structure running for 14 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 2018 in San Diego, California a day after California rejected plans by the federal government for National Guard troops on the border
According to a local Fox News affiliate, a few of them jumped the fence or crawled through openings and briefly made it onto U.S. soil.
But they were quickly apprehended by Border Patrol agents, working on horseback, ATVs, other vehicles, and on foot. There were also trucks and helicopters deployed.
The U.S. Border Patrol sent a news release stating it believes some of the people at the fence are from the caravan that’s been traveling through Mexico from Honduras.
With about 20,000 agents, there are already thousands of Border Patrol agents on the southern border.
Trump warned repeatedly about the threat posed by the caravan in the days before the election, but hasn’t tweeted about it since Oct. 31.
‘Democrats are inviting caravan after caravan of illegal aliens to pour into our country, overwhelming your schools, your hospitals, and your communities,’ Trump said while campaigning in Indiana the night before the election, although he didn’t say which people had supposedly invited the caravan.
‘If you want more caravans, if you want more crime, vote Democrat tomorrow. … If you want strong borders and safe communities, no drugs, no caravans, vote Republican,’ the president said.