A major U.S. port of entry was shut down Sunday morning after a horde of migrants rushed the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to make their way across illegally.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol shut down the busy San Ysidro port of entry, closing all northbound and southbound traffic lanes as well as pedestrian crossings, after approximately 500 migrants pushed past Mexican police blockades and made a break for the border between San Diego and Tijuana.
CBP issued the following statement on the incident:
In preparation for multiple planned demonstrations on both sides of the border, CBP had deployed additional personnel to the San Ysidro port of entry on Sunday. As the demonstrations on the Mexican side reached the border area, some members of the demonstration split off to head towards multiple locations along the border.
Some attempted to enter the U.S. both directly east and west of the border crossing. These attempts to illegally enter the U.S., and the response to them continue. Some attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicles lanes at the port of entry itself. Those persons were stopped and turned back to Mexico.
To prepare for the possibility that additional groups would also break off from demonstrations for a possible attempt or attempts to rush illegally through the port of entry, CBP suspended operations at the port of entry.
Migrants were seen on video bolting across a levee on the Mexico side toward the border, some darting to the pedestrian crossings on the east and west sides of the San Ysidro port, others scaling walls and breaking through fencing. There were also reportedly migrants seen cutting through concertina wire, where they were sprayed with tear gas by Border Patrol agents.
CBP confirmed the use of tear gas in a tweet indicating that “several migrants threw projectiles at the agents in San Diego” and that Border Patrol agents deployed tear gas in response “because of the risk to [the] agents' safety.”
“Several agents were hit by the projectiles,” wrote CBP. “The situation is evolving and a statement is forthcoming.”
It is unknown what the projectiles were or whether any Border Patrol agents were injured.
Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a tweet Sunday that her department "will not tolerate this type of lawlessness & will not hesitate to shut down (ports of entry) for security reasons.”
She added that DHS will "seek to prosecute to the fullest extend of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our sovereignty."
San Ysidro port operations were suspended for hours. San Ysidro is one of the busiest U.S. ports of entry, with over 100,000 people who cross every day.
CBP San Diego reopened the traffic lanes and pedestrian crossings Sunday evening, but by then the damage had already been done.
The shutdown caused by the migrants’ decision to charge the border inconvenienced thousands of people, as many were trying to get back home from traveling for Thanksgiving or Black Friday shopping.
According to FOX 5 San Diego, “Mexico's Interior Ministry said those identified as having tried to illegally cross from Mexico into the United States will be processed for deportation to their home countries.”
It is unclear whether any migrants actually made it across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last week more than 5,000 migrants arrived to the border city of Tijuana via caravan with plans to apply for asylum in the U.S. The number of migrants are taking a toll on the city’s resources. Tijuana’s mayor on Thursday declared the situation a humanitarian crisis and has criticized the Mexican federal government for “categorically” failing to provide the migrants aid.
President Trump has threatened to shut down the “whole border” if Mexico loses control of the border on its side.
CBP has shut down lanes at ports of entry before to install “hardening infrastructure” in preparation for the caravan, but not the ports in their entirety.
Watch the chaos unfold below: