SAN DIEGO — Central American migrants from the main caravan continued trickling into Tijuana, Mexico Friday, sparking conflict Thursday night with Tijuana residents, according to multiple reports from the border.
Members of the caravan arrived in the Mexican border city as early as Sunday, but the main caravan remained hundreds of miles away at that time. The bulk of the caravan arrived late Thursday evening, continuing into this morning.
City officials in Tijuana opened a gymnasium to potentially house up to 3,000 asylum seekers.
City shelters are only able to house 700 people. With another group of 1,200 heading toward the border, Tijuana could have a total of 10,000 migrants in the coming days and weeks.
Tensions between residents and migrants boiled over Thursday night, with USA Friday reporting that Tijuana police separated the groups after spurts of shoving and thrown punches. Tijuana residents reportedly wanted the migrants to go to shelters rather than the public spaces they occupied.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have slowly filtered through asylum claims, accepting roughly 100 each day and some from as long as six weeks ago. It is unknown how long the majority of immigrants will have to wait to have their asylum claims managed.
California public officials have announced their support for the migrants as they trickle into Tijuana and voiced concern about the framing of their asylum claims.
Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo and the Coalition of Mexican Migrants plan to hold a press conference at noon Friday to announce their solidarity with the migrants, with the coalition planning to provide humanitarian aid and supplies to those in Tijuana.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, told reporters Thursday that she believes the caravan was used as a political football in the lead-up to the Nov. 6 mid-term election.
Harris urged the U.S. to be welcoming and tolerant of the migrants in October, when they remained far from the border in Central America.
“There’s no question that the issue of the caravans was an issue that was inflated for political purposes, to influence the midterm elections,” Harris said.