Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans arrived in Tijuana by the hundreds Wednesday, getting their first glimpse of the robust U.S. military presence that awaits them after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of troops to the border.
Several hundred people from the caravan got off buses and made their way to a shelter on the Mexican side near the border to line up for food. Doctors checked those fighting colds and other ailments while several dozen migrants, mostly single men, spent the night at a Tijuana beach that is cut by a towering border wall of metal bars. Several Border Patrol agents in San Diego watched them through the barrier separating the U.S. and Mexico.
The first wave of migrants in the caravan, which became a central theme of the recent U.S. election, began arriving in Tijuana in recent days, and their numbers have grown each day. The bulk of the main caravan appeared to be about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) from the border, but has recently been moving hundreds of miles a day by hitching rides on trucks and buses.
Many of the new arrivals were waiting in Tijuana for the caravan leaders to arrive and provide guidance on their immigration options to the U.S., including seeking asylum. Some said they might cross illegally.
The first arrivals generally received a warm welcome from Tijuana, despite the fact that its shelter system to house migrants is at capacity. However, tensions between Mexicans and Central American migrants escalated.
Locals gathered at a beachfront plaza on Wednesday night where the Central American migrants congregated to demand them to leave the Mexican border city.
The Central Americans in the caravan are the latest migrants to arrive in Tijuana with the hope of crossing into the United States. Tijuana shelters in 2016 housed Haitians who came by the thousands after making their way from Brazil with plans to get to the U.S. Since then, several thousand Haitians have remained in Tijuana, finding work. Some have married local residents and enrolled in local universities.