Tijuana mayor declares humanitarian crisis over migrant caravan

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TIJUANA, Mexico — The mayor of Tijuana Thursday criticized his federal government’s response to a caravan of migrants staying in the overcrowded shelters and streets of his city as they wait to seek asylum in the US, declaring the situation a humanitarian crisis.Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said that the Mexican federal government has provided little assistance and pledged not to commit the city’s public resources to dealing with the situation, Fox News reported.

Gastelum’s government issued a statement saying that it was requesting help from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “I am not going to spend the money of Tijuana (citizens),” the mayor said.

In recent weeks, protests have erupted in Tijuana as some citizens grow frustrated with the presence of migrants in their city and the related difficulties the group has caused for people who regularly cross the border.

The latest counts from Mexican authorities put 6,219 migrants in Tijuana with an additional 1,669 migrants trekking toward Baja California from the Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

President Donald Trump said Thursday he has authorized American troops on the US-Mexico border to “use lethal force” if necessary against an approaching group of migrants while also threatening to close “the whole border.”

“If they have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve given the OK,” Trump said. “If they have to — I hope they don’t have to.”

“I have no choice,” Trump said, and, without providing evidence, added, “You’re dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals” and “rough people.”

Trump has sent nearly 6,000 troops to the US-Mexico border to protect against a group of migrants coming through Mexico from Central America. Many of the migrants have said they are seeking asylum and fleeing gang violence and persecution in their home countries. The president ordered the deployment shortly before the midterm elections, when Trump was making the fight against illegal immigration a central part of his pitch for Republicans seeking office.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday “there has been no call for any lethal force from (the Department of Homeland Security),” saying that any troops backing up customs personnel would not be carrying firearms but could be equipped with shields and batons.

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