Anti-migrant sentiment is running high in Tijuana, as hundreds of locals shouting “no to the invasion” and “Mexico First”staged a protest rally on Sunday. Starting at a major traffic roundabout they marched north toward a makeshift shelter which now hosts thousands of migrants. The protesters carried placards reading “enough of uncontrolled migration” and “migrants yes, invaders no.”
Before the procession managed to reach Benito Juarez migrant camp, riot police officers were deployed to block them. Some brief scuffles followed but, according to local media, law enforcement officers managed to disperse the crowd without making any arrests.
Tensions in the city exploded last Wednesday when first clashes were reported between the newcomers and locals, that latter angry that migrants “illegally” forced their way into Mexico and now accumulate at the US border, posing a growing “security risk.” Responding to the public sentiment, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum made clear that anyone who endangers public order will be deported.
“No city in the world is prepared to receive this –if I’m allowed– this avalanche,” he said, during a news conference at City Hall last week.
It is a tsunami. There is concern among all citizens of Tijuana.
Not all Tijuana locals oppose the influx of asylum seekers though. Just before the Sunday anti-caravan march began, a small demonstration was held in support of the Central Americans, condemning what they call “racism” and “discrimination.”Some 3,200 Central American migrants had arrived in Tijuana over the past week, their last stop before attempting to cross into the United States. In the coming weeks the number of migrants in Tijuana is expected to reach 10,000 as thousands are heading to a city already stretched beyond its capacity to host the newcomers.
Donald Trump, who has deployed thousands of troops at the border to reinforce the frontier with Mexico, said last week that the US, just like Tijuana, is “ill-prepared” to host such a migrant “invasion” and urged the Central Americans to “go home.” Those who try to cross the border illegally “will be detained or turned away,” the US president warned in another tweet.