Tijuana's mayor defiantly slammed his country's federal government for failing to provide adequate aid for the migrant caravan and vowed not to bankrupt his city to care for the thousands now massed near the U.S. border.
Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Thursday asked for international groups like the United Nations to step up aid in response to the more than 5,000 migrants who have arrived in the city over the past two weeks in an attempt to reach the U.S. border. Gastelum called the situation a humanitarian crisis and claimed the Mexican federal government had not helped the city deal with the massive influx of migrants.
“They have categorically omitted and not complied with their legal obligations,” he said during a press conference on Thanksgiving Day, the Arizona Republic reported. “So we’re now asking them and international humanitarian aid groups to bring in and carry out humanitarian assistance.”
Meanwhile, a small group of Central American migrants marched to a border crossing on Thursday to demand better conditions in shelters housing them.
The group of about 150 migrants carrying white flags that read, “La Paz y Dios” or “Peace and God” separated from the larger caravan and inched within 500 feet from the U.S., the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday.
They criticized the conditions at the shelters and said they deserved better.
“There are sick children here, and we are cold and hungry,” said Carlos Lopez, a Honduran who was leading the group. “The whole world is watching what is happening here.”
Municipal authorities have acknowledged they are ill-equipped to handle the growing number of migrants arriving in the city.
The Arizona Republic reported that the Tijuana municipal government estimated it has spent nearly $27,000 a day to house and care for the migrants.
“I will not compromise public services,” Gastelum told reporters. “I will not spend Tijuanans’ money, I will not bring Tijuana into debt now, in the same way we haven’t done so these past two years.”
Migrants have been urged to apply for humanitarian visas in Mexico and seek work in Tijuana, where officials said there are thousands of jobs available.
The local state government launched a month-long job fair earlier this week to try and fill open positions, mostly in the manufacturing sector.
Francisco Iribe Paniagua, the Baja California state’s labor secretary, told the Arizona Republic earlier this week the idea for the job fair came after a similar program was a success two years ago when Haitian migrants swarmed the city.
"They had also come with the purpose (of seeking asylum in the U.S.), but the reality on the ground forced many of them to stay in Baja California," he told the newspaper. "This time around, we're acting more quickly, taking advantage of that experience."
President Trump demanded Friday that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle come together to tackle border security.
“Republicans and Democrats MUST come together, finally, with major Border Security package, which will include funding for the Wall,” he wrote. “After 40 years of talk, it is finally time for action. Fix the Border, for once and for all, NOW!”
On Thursday, while speaking with reporters in Florida, Trump threatened to close the U.S. border with Mexico for an undisclosed period if his administration determined that its southern ally had lost “control” of the situation.
Earlier in the day, Trump singled out Chief Justice John Roberts in a barrage of tweets, saying that courts should defer to his administration and law enforcement on border security because judges “know nothing about it and are making our County unsafe.”
“Our great Law Enforcement professionals MUST BE ALLOWED TO DO THEIR JOB! If not there will be only bedlam, chaos, injury and death. We want the Constitution as written!” he wrote.
On Monday, a federal judge put the administration's asylum policy on hold. Under that new policy, Trump declared no one could apply for asylum except at an official border entry point. Some ports of entry are already facing huge backups, with people waiting for weeks to be processed.
The U.S. government only processes about 100 asylum applications per day at Tijuana's main crossing to San Diego and there were already several thousand migrants on a waiting list.
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly, Travis Fedschun and Eddie DeMarche and the Associated Press contributed to this report.