A sizable group of illegal immigrants in a caravan have arrived in the border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, reportedly the first of many of the much-anticipated migration that dominated the election news cycle.
Authorities were struggling to deal with the group of nearly 400 migrants who arrived in Tijuana aboard nine buses Tuesday and immediately went to the U.S. southern border to celebrate.
In an act of defiance, a couple of dozen illegals scaled the steel border fence to celebrate their arrival, chanting “Yes, we could!” and one man taunting border agents dropped over to the U.S. side briefly, and then ran quickly back to the fence.
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USA Today reporter Rebecca Plevin posted and then deleted a photo on Twitter of the illegals easily scaling the border fence between Tijuana and San Diego. Another Twitter user then re-posted the photo saying, “The first wave of the caravan (which we were assured wouldn’t arrive for weeks.)”
The first wave of the caravan (which we were assured wouldn't arrive for weeks), climbing onto the border fence between Tijuana & San Diego. (Photo posted then deleted by @rebeccaplevin.) pic.twitter.com/p92wGIftPv
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) November 13, 2018
At the border, Customs and Border Protection agents were standing by to keep watch. Plevin posted a photo of five agents on ATVs, and three horseback.
Through the fence, you can see five Customs and Border Protection agents on bikes and three on horseback. There are at least six agents on foot as well, keeping any eye on the fence. pic.twitter.com/msS5bE0d7i
— Rebecca Plevin (@rebeccaplevin) November 13, 2018
AM 760 posted a video showing shocking footage of the illegal immigrants climbing the border fence and mocking U.S. agents monitoring them from San Diego —
— AM 760 KFMB (@760kfmb) November 14, 2018
Tijuana’s head of migrant services, Cesar Palencia Chavez, said that after the illegal immigrants visit to the border, most were taken to shelters in groups of 30 or 40.
With a total of three caravans moving through Mexico including 7,000 to 10,000 migrants in all, questions arose as to how Tijuana would deal with such a huge influx, especially given U.S. moves to tighten border security and make it harder to claim asylum.
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On Wednesday, buses and trucks carried some illegal migrants into the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California and further northward into the border state of Sonora.
The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles from the border, but was moving hundreds of miles per day.
Other illegal migrants, however, were still stranded in the west-central state of Jalisco because they’re still waiting for rides.
About 1,300 migrants in a second caravan were resting at a stadium in Mexico City, where the first group had stayed last week.
The Rev. Miguel Angel Soto, director of the Casa de Migrante — House of the Migrant — in the Sinaloa capital of Culiacan, said about 2,000 migrants had arrived in that area. He said the state government, the Roman Catholic Church and Escuinapa officials were helping the migrants.
The priest also said the church had been able to get “good people” to provide buses for moving migrants northward. He said so far 24 buses had left Escuinapa on an eight-drive to Navojoa in Sonora state.
Some small groups had broken off along the way and went on ahead, either using buses, trains or long-haul truck rides to get to the border quicker. Small groups were reported in the northern cities of Saltillo and Monterrey, in the region near Texas.
Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas, and its government said Monday that 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status. Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.
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The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to “harden” the border crossing from Tijuana ahead of the caravans.
Customs and Border Protection announced it was closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California, so it could install infrastructure.
That still leaves a substantial path for the tens of thousands of people who cross daily: Twenty-three lanes remain open at San Ysidro and 12 at Otay Mesa.
San Ysidro is the border’s busiest crossing, with about 110,000 people entering the U.S. every day. That traffic includes some 40,000 vehicles, 34,000 pedestrians and 150 to 200 buses.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.