The White House says it is working on a plan to interview and vet migrants in Mexico before they step foot onto US soil. President Trump has threatened to completely close the entire border for a period of time until officials can get things under control.
Memos obtained by the Washington Post say Central American asylum seekers who cannot establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution while in Mexico will not be allowed entry into the US and would be turned around at the border. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with his counterpart in Mexico this week and said he warned that none of the migrants traveling in caravans will be permitted to cross the border.
AGENTS DO A DRY RUN
Customs and Border Protection agents held a readiness exercise Thanksgiving afternoon at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (POE). The drill shut down border access for about 10 minutes. Officials said the purpose of the exercise was to make sure agents understood the rules of engagement and protection measures.
Earlier in the week, steel and concrete barriers were placed on some of the POE lanes to narrow access down to a couple inbound lanes through the US Customs checkpoint. This has caused massive delays for those entering the US by vehicle.
USE OF DEADLY FORCE
White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, has signed a Cabinet Order allowing the National Guard to use force, up to and include lethal force, to protect border agents. This is an unprecedented move because troops cannot act as a police force on domestic soil without an order from Congress or a state’s Governor. It’s not clear what legal challenges, if any, are planned. Kelly said the use of force would only be authorized at the request of the Department of Homeland Security. The Cabinet Order also gives troops permission to execute searches, conduct detentions and crowd control.
ARREST OF CARAVANERS CONTINUES IN TIJUANA
The Tijuana Police Chief has told a group of local business owners he believes 75% of the migrants in the Caravan act like thugs and 80% of the migrants use drugs. Mario Martinez said dozens of migrants have been arrested for various crimes and will be deported, including a journalist from Honduras who was arrested for public drunkenness.
For more than a week there have been rallies, protests and marches throughout the streets of Tijuana. These gatherings are both in support of and against the Caravan. Most are peaceful but some end in arguments, fights and arrests.
The exact number of migrants in Tijuana is unknown. Some have estimated the crowd at 4,700 with thousands more on the way, others have said it’s more like 2,500.
US Customs officials say they are processing about 100 asylum claims per day.
Photos: Pepe Alor, Juan Alvarez, CBP