Migrant caravan won't get much sympathy

November 26, 2018  

It was billed as a march to the border and a “knock on the door” of the United States but it ended with violence.

07:34, UK,
Monday
26
November
2018

By Stuart Ramsay, chief correspondent

They started to gather from before daylight.

Men, women and children, sleeping rough in a sports ground that is over full and overstretched, peering out of tents or emerging from under plastic sheets, preparing to move once again.

It was billed as a march to the border and a “knock on the door” of the United States, by the asylum caravan, whose numbers are swelling by the day.

But the Mexican authorities, egged on by the US government, were in no mood to allow the travellers all the way to the border and the march was brought to a standstill at one of the bridges leading to the border terminal by riot police.

It’s a tactic that has worked before. It did not today.

Within minutes the marchers began running at and around the police lines.

A collective cry emboldened them and they pushed their way through the riot shields.

Small groups of police attempting to hold their ground were simply run over. They couldn’t cope with the surge.

Hundreds streamed up and down the steep banks of a huge, nearly dry, sewage canal. They jostled over a walkway, ignoring the stinking water beneath.

Men and women carrying children and anything else they could bring.

In the distance you could see pedestrians in the official glassed walkway to America begin running, knowing the border would close.

“We want to make our point at the border not on a road,” a man running beside me shouted.

“I want asylum and I want it heard in court,” he said, disappearing as a police unit closed in on us.

In minutes one of the busiest crossing points between Mexico and the US was sealed shut with huge metal sheets drawn across the multi-lane highway into America.

The migrants couldn’t get to the terminal so they picked up their run in the searing Mexico sunlight, sweat dripping off them as they smashed their way through a fence and up a sandy and rocky embankment to the main rail crossing between the two countries.

Babies and prams passed up the line over their heads as they scrabbled to the top.

Running along the rail lines they spotted a weakness in the fence and pushing the metal apart swarmed in to the United States.

Their success lasted moments.

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Directed from US military helicopters swooping above, border police opened up with tear gas; a tannoy warning the migrants that lethal force would be used if they continued.

They fled back through the fence some clutching their arms, struck by canisters or plastic bullets.

The US officers patrolled the fence waiting for the Mexican police to restore order.

Scrambling for reinforcements the riot police finally reached the frontier and slowly pushed the migrants back into Tijuana.

Fights broke out between the migrants and locals, angered that their border businesses were shut down again, before the police swooped, arresting men and telling them they are on the deportation list immediately.

These scenes were reminiscent of the migration crisis in Europe a few years ago and they will likely be repeated. It is almost inevitable.

Nobody knows what is going to happen next but the migrant caravan won’t get much sympathy anymore and none in the White House.

© 2018 Sky UK