U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials shut down all northbound lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry for about three hours Monday to add additional “port hardening materials” in advance of the arrival of a thousands-strong migrant caravan.
The closure began around 3:15 a.m., with CBP halting all processing of northbound vehicle traffic and some pedestrian traffic at the border. Some northbound lanes reopened around 6:25 a.m., although 10 traffic lanes remained blocked. People traveling through the border checkpoint were advised to anticipate delays.
“The lanes were closed to install additional port hardening materials at the port of entry, to include jersey barriers and concertina wire, to prepare for the potential arrival of thousands of people migrating in a caravan heading towards the border of the United States,” according to a statement from the federal agency.
“In the early morning hours, CBP officials received reports of groups of persons from the caravan gathering in the city of Tijuana for a possible attempt or attempts to rush illegally through the port of entry instead of presenting themselves as required to a CBP officer,” according to the agency. “CBP officials suspended operations to safely place impediments at the port of entry that would restrict access to a large group attempting to run through the border crossing. After the CBP response at San Ysidro, no activity materialized at the border crossing.”
The U.S. government has been planning for a possible influx of immigrants due to the caravan for multiple weeks. Customs and Border Protection agents have been accepting roughly 100 asylum claims each day, but the wait for new caravan members could be as long as six months.
On Nov. 8, 1,100 Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton were deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to support border security, mainly by installing concertina wire and pre-positioning jersey barriers, barricades and fencing under Operation Secure Line.
“CBP will not allow for the unlawful entry of persons into the United States, at or between our ports of entry,” said Pete Flores, director of CBP field operations in San Diego. “Waiting until a large group of persons mass at the border to attempt an illegal crossing is too late for us. We need to be prepared prior to when they arrive at the border crossing.”
Members of the caravan have been arriving in Tijuana for just over a week, with around 3,000 already at the border. Some residents of the area have been protesting against the caravan and the supposed burden they’re placing on local shelter services.
Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has warned that the city would not be able to handle many more of the Central American migrants, but some reports have suggested the caravan’s could total 10,000 migrants in Tijuana.
–City News Service
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