In a planned demonstration, hundreds of Tijuana residents showed up to protest against the members of the Central American Exodus that are arriving in the city that borders the United States hoping to seek asylum in the neighboring country to the north.
Hundreds of screaming demonstrators gathered in the middle of an emblematic roundabout in the transient city with banners shouting that the asylum seekers, mainly Hondurans trying to escape their country’s 70 percent poverty and overwhelming violence, were “armed invaders.”
"They are invaders! They are armed! Get out of the country," the anti-immigrant protesters shouted. Some participants were residents of San Diego, California that sits just north of Tijuana.
Protesters said that the migrant caravan members, who have been trickling into the city by the hundreds after walking and hitchhiking for up to a month after departing from Honduras and Guatemala in October, are making the city less safe and are violating Mexican laws by breaking a security barrier. Some of them even threw bottles at police who tried to manage the violent crowd.
"We can not allow the disorder that arose from how they entered the country, we are not anti-migrants, we want them to adhere to the legal regulations of Mexico," Ernesto González, of the organization Prioridad a Los Mexicanos, told Reuters. Some anti-migrant protesters told RT the demonstration was to “defend the rights of the Tijuanos.”
Nationalist Gonzalez added: "We want three things simply: (that the Central Americans) ask for asylum or order their legal stay in Mexico. If not that they are deported immediately, be sealed to the southern border and begin to address these issues as national security." A small number of counter-protests took place the same day in Tijuana in support of the Exodus.
Mexican military and federal police used excessive force on each of the four caravans as they tried to enter the country from Guatemala, throwing tear gas at the asylum seekers and killing one Honduran with a rubber bullet.
While the approximately 10,000 Exodus members have been helped and well-received by citizens and organizations in Mexico over the past month, particularly in the country’s most impoverished southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, and Mexico City they been less welcomed in the north as they have been bused north out of Jalisco, Sinaloa, and Sonora by their state authorities.
On Nov. 15 a group of about 30 hurled insults and beer cans at members of the Exodus who had to camp out in the Playas de Tijuana neighborhood, calling them “fucking pieces of shit” who should “go away.”
Days earlier residents of the wealthy Coronado neighborhood verbally accosted LGBTQ-identifying members of the caravan as they tried to enter their rented Airbnb, accusing them of making the area “unsafe,” and the city’s mayor, Juan Manuel Gastelum called the caravan a “hoard” threatening to hold a referendum to ask the people of Tijuana if they want to continue allowing in migrants.
Local authorities have asked for federal support as the Central Americans apply for asylum to the United States, a process which could take months.
At U.S. President Donald Trump’s order, U.S. troops put up kilometers of barbed wire and barricades at the San Ysidro port of entry.