(FOX NEWS) Images and videos posted on social media Sunday afternoon showed hundreds of migrants from the leading Central American caravan pushing past Mexican riot police and rushing the border at the port of entry in San Ysidro, Calif., in a major test for both U.S. border authorities and Mexican officials.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it suspended northbound and southbound crossings for both pedestrians and vehicles at the San Ysidro port of entry at approximately 11:30 a.m. local time. It later tweeted that the pedestrian crossings had reopened, a little more than four hours after the initial closure. The vehicle lanes re-opened at approximately 5 p.m. local time, five-and-a-half hours after they were closed.
CBP added that some demonstrators “attempted to illegally enter the U.S. through both the northbound and southbound vehicle lanes at the port of entry itself. Those persons were stopped and turned back to Mexico.”
U.S. border agents shot several rounds of tear gas after some migrants attempted to penetrate various points along the border and threw what appeared to be rocks at U.S. authorities.
— emma murphy (@emmamurphyitv) November 25, 2018
Mexico’s Milenio TV showed images of migrants climbing over fences and peeling back metal sheeting to enter. Tear gas fumes were carried by the wind toward people who were hundreds of feet away, including some children.
Honduran Ana Zuniga, 23, also said she saw migrants opening a small hole in concertina wire at a gap on the Mexican side of a levee, at which point U.S. agents fired tear gas at them.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that some migrants “attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border and sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles at them.
“As I have continually stated, DHS will not tolerate this type of lawlessness and will not hesitate to shut down ports of entry for security and public safety reasons,” Nielsen said. “We will also seek to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who destroys federal property, endangers our frontline operators, or violates our nation’s sovereignty.”
The Mexican Interior Ministry said Sunday afternoon it would immediately deport the migrants who tried to “violently” breach the border. The Mexican government described Sunday’s events as “acts of provocation” that were “far from helpful” for the migrants’ objectives.
Earlier this month, President Trump said that troops stationed at the border would treat thrown rocks like “firearms.”
“We’re not going to put up with that,” the president said. “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. I told them to consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks, like they did at the Mexico military and police, I said, consider it a rifle.”
The situation Sunday was not unprecedented. In 2013, during the Obama administration, Border Patrol agents used pepper spray to fend off a crowd of approximately 100 migrants who attempted to rush the San Ysidro port of entry. The migrants in that episode also reportedly threw rocks and bottles at U.S. authorities.
BREAKING NEWS: More Footage of heavy clashes between illegal immigrants trying to storm the U.S. border and border security. Heavy objects suchs as stones thrown at border patrol agents. U.S. military helicopters are patrolling the area: pic.twitter.com/IY1tWbNesP
— BNL NEWS (@BreakingNLive) November 25, 2018
Within an hour on Sunday, the group from the caravan that rushed toward the border largely dispersed. Most of the migrants in the group were men.
Fox News had confirmed early Sunday through an organizer for Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the group helping organize the leading Central American migrant caravan, that members of the caravan were planning to attempt to cross the port of entry at San Ysidro later in the day.
Footage posted by ITV correspondent Emma Murphy also showed several U.S. Border Patrol helicopters reportedly flying low overhead on the Mexican side of the border.
In anticipation of the planned migrant effort, U.S. authorities said they had deployed additional personnel to the San Ysidro port of entry on Sunday, including Air and Marine agents.