Tijuana Mayor Says Migrant Caravan Organisers Should Face Criminal Charges

A woman rests inside a tent on the street near a sports complex shelter as authorities tried to persuade migrants to move to a new more distant shelter in Tijuana Mexico Saturday Dec. 1 2018

"The fact that Border Patrol arrested a murderer within the first caravan-related apprehensions at our southern border proves how real the threat of the caravan is to our national security and public safety", said department spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton.

Sunday's incident occurred at the border in Tijuana, where thousands of caravan members have been arriving in recent weeks after fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.

Administration officials have portrayed the caravan as a lawless, violent mob, saying there are some 600 people in the group who have a criminal history. The Health Department said 6,000 are in the city, while U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this week that there are 8,500 spread across Tijuana and nearby Mexicali.

That wait could take months, a fact that has Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum anxious that the caravan's presence is creating both health hazards and a financial crisis for his city.

The memo was circulated amid reports that US President Donald Trump has told aides he has considered replacing Nielsen and other officials in his Cabinet, frustrated with Nielsen's lack of progress on immigration and border enforcement.

Hundreds of people marched toward the San Ysidro crossing where they were stopped by Mexican police.

Officials said Friday that one caravan member, a 46-year-old Honduran man convicted of murder, was arrested trying to cross the border illegally.

A migrant helps bundle and clear trash as most Central Americans leave a sports complex shelter that authorities were trying to close in Tijuana Mexico Saturday Dec. 1 2018

Overcrowding along with cooler temperatures and rain has already helped spread illness among migrants, including flu-like sicknesses, lice and chicken pox, according to city officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

A Honduran mother said that she was pressured to join the border rush on November 25 that culminated in American Border Patrol officers shooting tear gas into the mob to disperse them.

The other adults were not prosecuted because Customs and Border Protection didn't have enough information to pursue charges, including the name of the arresting officers, according to the official, who said it was a chaotic scene.

"Consistent with the president's direction to do all within our authority to secure USA borders, I am seeking your assistance and ask you to prioritize efforts to help us prevent illegal entry into the United States", Nielsen wrote.

US authorities are working on a new system to better record evidence if similar circumstances arise, the official said.

The migrant caravan's members ventured through Mexico towards the United States carrying hope for a better future.

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