The message for the migrant caravan was clear from marchers on Sunday in Tijuana, Mexico: We don’t want you here.
“We want the caravan to go; they are invading us,” said Patricia Reyes, a 62-year-old protester, hiding from the sun under an umbrella. “They should have come into Mexico correctly, legally, but they came in like animals.”
Mexican Protesters In Tijuana Demand Caravan Migrants Be Deported
A few hundred Tijuanenses gathered in the city’s high-end Rio area to protest the groups migrating from Central American countries.
Demonstrators held signs reading “No illegals,” “No to the invasion” and “Mexico First.” Many wore the country’s red, white and green national soccer jersey and vigorously waved Mexican flags. The crowd often slipped into chants of “Ti-jua-na!” and “Me-xi-co!” They sang the national anthem several times.
The march is a foreboding sign for the migrants who have formed caravans to cross Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States. Many, but not all, of the migrants have come to Tijuana, which borders San Diego, to request asylum in the U.S. They come primarily from Honduras, though some are from other Central American countries. A number of the asylum-seekers say they can’t return home after receiving threats from street gangs such as MS-13 and the 18th Street gang, as well as threats from government figures in their countries.
But that process could take months, and the Trump administration is working to block them from entering with new rules to limit asylum.
While the protesters numbered only a few hundred, in a city of more than 1.6 million, vitriol against the migrants has spread across social media in Tijuana in recent days.
“They should create concentration and deportation camps with federal funds,” wrote one commenter on the Facebook page organizing the march.
“Tijuana is a place that welcomes anyone, but you must have papers, you must identify yourself,” demonstrator Magdalena Baltazar said on Sunday, as she waved a Mexican flag and marched through the city. “We work hard here. We don’t get handouts. The government shouldn’t be giving things to migrants when plenty of Mexicans are in a difficult position.”
Most of the protesters said the migrants should be detained and deported.
The marchers had intended to head to the mayor’s office to demand action but, as police cars raced ahead to block intersections, many protesters veered off, heading toward a shelter where more than 2,500 migrants are staying, according to Tijuana city officials.
“Say that to my face,” a protester yelled back.
A few blocks ahead, a family stood on a balcony and shouted at the protesters.
“This is not what Tijuana is like!” cried an elderly woman. “All migrants are welcome here!”
A block away from the shelter, local police in riot gear set up a barricade. Some marchers yelled, shoved and threw water at the officers, but they could not advance.