Dozens of faith leaders arrested at San Diego ‘Love Knows No Borders’ protest

SAN DIEGO – U.S. authorities Monday arrested 32 faith leaders marching in California toward the Mexican border during a protest organized by a Quaker group. One activist was charged with assaulting an officer and remains in custody. More than 300 people, many the leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, took part in the … Continue reading “Dozens of faith leaders arrested at San Diego ‘Love Knows No Borders’ protest”

SAN DIEGO – U.S. authorities Monday arrested 32 faith leaders marching in California toward the Mexican border during a protest organized by a Quaker group. One activist was charged with assaulting an officer and remains in custody.

More than 300 people, many the leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, took part in the demonstration at San Diego's Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico.

Activists have demanded the U.S. government pull the military from border communities, “respect” the human right to petition for asylum and end deportations of illegal immigrants. The group also is calling on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection.

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The rally, held on a beach divided by the border wall, was the second confrontation for U.S. agents since a caravan of more than 6,000 migrants, predominantly Hondurans, reached Tijuana last month. A confrontation with rock-throwers from Mexico led to U.S. agents firing tear gas into Mexico on Nov. 25 and a five-hour closure at the world’s busiest border crossing.

On Monday, the agents were dressed in riot gear, waiting in front of the border wall.

Protesters detained near the border with Tijuana, Mexico, on Monday. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

“Step back behind the caution tape! That is where you can peacefully demonstrate,” agents announced to those who showed up to demand a more “humane” border.

“Let us give (migrants) the resources they need,” Rev. Pamela Anderson said. “We don’t need military. We need judges.”

Women detained during the protest. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The Federal Protective Service arrested 31 people while Border Patrol arrested the demonstrator accused of assault.

Daniel Burns, a protestor who made the trip from Maine, told KGTV the agents were professional.

“I sat down when they started walking toward us… they were professional,” he said.

Members of various faith groups walking on the beach toward the U.S. border with Mexico. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The demonstration Monday was meant to launch a national week of action called "Love Knows No Borders: A Moral Call for Migrant Justice," which falls between Human Rights Day — on Monday — and International Migrants' Day on Dec. 18, the group said.

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"Showing up to welcome and bless children, mothers and fathers seeking asylum from very difficult and dehumanizing circumstances is the right and humane thing to do," said Bishop Minerva G. Carcano from the United Methodist Church. "How we act in these moments determines who we will become as a nation."

U.S. police and Border Patrol holding the line at the protest near the border. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in Tijuana after undertaking a grueling journey from Central America to the U.S. border. Many face waiting weeks or months in Mexico while they apply for asylum. The U.S. is processing up to about 100 claims a day at the San Diego crossing, which is creating a backlog.

Earlier Monday, U.S. officials announced Monday they will start withdrawing many of the active-duty troops that President Trump ordered to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the caravan. About 2,200 of the active duty troops are set to leave before the holidays. The move by the Trump administration to beef up the military just before the midterm election was viewed by some critics as a political stunt and a waste of military resources.

Members of various faith groups showing support for Central American asylum-seekers who arrived in recent caravans. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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Col. Rob Manning said there are currently 2,200 active-duty troops in Texas; 1,350 in Arizona; and 1,650 in California.

“Some units have completed their mission and they have already started to partially redeploy. Other units have been identified to rotate home and will be returning home over the next several weeks,” Manning said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

You can find Barnini Chakraborty on Twitter @Barnini.

Southwest border crossing apprehensions spiked in November, DHS reveals

The number of immigrants who were apprehended while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally or who were deemed inadmissible at a port of entry last month increased by 60 percent from the same period in 2017, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 62,456 people were apprehended or turned away while attempting to cross the southwestern border in November. By comparison, 39,051 people were apprehended in November of last year. Of those apprehended this past November, 51,856 were apprehended between ports of entry — a slight uptick from the 51,001 who were apprehended in October. The remaining 10,600 people presented themselves at a port of entry and were deemed inadmissible, up from the  9,771 who were deemed inadmissible in October.

The numbers were released as Congress gears up for another funding fight over President Trump's proposed border wall. The president has demanded that an upcoming bill to fund the government past Dec. 21 include at least $5 billion for his proposed wall, something Democrats have rejected.

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"The November 2018 border numbers are the predictable result of a broken immigration system – including flawed judicial rulings – that usurps the will of the American people who have repeatedly demanded secure borders," DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement. " …The President has made it clear: these violations of law will not stand. We will enforce our laws to the maximum extent possible …

"We will continue to push Congress to step up and confront these legal failures," Waldman added. "If Congress once again kicks the can down the road and refuses to close the well-known and devastating loopholes and fund the President’s wall it will be a continuation of a decade’s long dereliction of duty."

Thousands of migrants have come up from Central America in recent weeks as part of caravans. Last month, Trump used his national security powers to put in place regulations that denied asylum to anyone caught crossing illegally, but a judge has halted that change as a lawsuit progresses. The president has repeatedly said the wall is needed to stop an "invasion" of migrants and others seeking to cross into the U.S. illegally.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the lame-duck Congress should pass a half-dozen government funding bills that key committees have already agreed on, along with a separate measure funding DHS. Funding for the homeland agency should address border security and does not necessarily include a wall, Pelosi said.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that a bipartisan Senate plan for $1.6 billion in border security funding does not include money for the 30-foot-high concrete wall Trump has envisioned. The money "can only be used for fencing" and technology that experts say is appropriate and makes sense as a security feature, said Schumer, who called the wall "a nonstarter" for Democrats.

Schumer called the spat over the wall unnecessary, noting that the administration has not spent more than $1 billion approved for border security in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. "The idea that they haven't spent last year's money and they're demanding such a huge amount this year makes no sense at all," he said.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the key question is whether Trump will sign a bill without funding for the wall.

"It doesn't matter how much appetite there is for a shutdown anywhere else if he is willing to have a shutdown over this issue," Blunt said. "He has given every indication that he would."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Caravan migrants accuse US border agents of ‘repression’ by using tear gas

A group of Central American migrants camped at the U.S.-Mexico border said Tuesday that they were "victims of repression" by American border agents who launched tear gas over the weekend at a crowd that included angry rock-throwers and crying children.

"We were only walking [to the border checkpoint] so that we could be visible, so that they would recognize that we are a large group of people who just want to be heard so that international law can protect us as we migrate and seek to improve our lives," the group, calling itself Central American Exodus for Life, said in an English-language statement.

The showdown at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing has thrown into sharp relief two competing narratives about the caravan of migrants who've aimed to apply for asylum but have gotten stuck on the Mexico side of the border.

"There are international organizations here that accept as fact that we will not be able to enter the United States and that we should be returned," the migrant statement said, "but many of those of us who are travelling have to continue trying because they will kill us if we return to our countries."

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In their statement, the migrants made five requests, including an end to what they called "arbitrary, manipulative and involuntary deportations"; an accelerated process for applying for asylum in the U.S.; a permanent accommodation for migrants wishing to stay in Mexico, to be negotiated by that country's incoming government; the public release of the identities of deported migrants; and "Human Rights accompaniment at all times and during an detention to prevent the violation of migrant human rights."

U.S. officials Tuesday lowered the number of arrests in Sunday's confrontation to 42 from 69. Rodney Scott, chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector, said the initial count included some arrests in Mexico by Mexican authorities who reported 39 arrests. Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement that it would immediately deport the people arrested on its side of the border and would reinforce security.

On Monday, President Trump defended the use of tear gas by border agents, saying "they were being rushed by some very tough people."

"Here's the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally," the president said.

Scott also defended the agents' decisions to fire tear gas into Mexico, saying they were being attacked by "a hail of rocks."

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"That has happened before and, if we are rocked, that would happen again tomorrow," he told reporters.

The city of Tijuana said that as of Monday, 5,851 migrants were at a temporary shelter, 1,074 were women, 1,023 were children and 3,754 were men, including fathers traveling with families, along with single men.

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The U.S. military said Monday that about 300 troops who had been deployed in south Texas and Arizona as part of a border security mission have been moved to California for similar work.

The military's role is limited largely to erecting barriers along the border and providing transportation and logistical support to Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the administration's concerns about the caravan "were borne out and on full display" Sunday.

McAleenan said hundreds — perhaps more than 1,000 — people attempted to rush vehicle lanes at the San Ysidro crossing. Mexican authorities estimated the crowd at 500. The chaos followed what began as a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims.

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McAleenan said four agents were struck with rocks but were not injured because they were wearing protective gear.

Border Patrol agents launched pepper spray balls in addition to tear gas in what officials said were on-the-spot decisions made by agents. U.S. troops deployed to the border on Trump's orders were not said to have been involved in the operation.

Fox News’ Lee Ross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Caravan migrants accuse US border agents of ‘repression’ by using tear gas

A group of Central American migrants camped at the U.S.-Mexico border said Tuesday that they were "victims of repression" by American border agents who launched tear gas over the weekend at a crowd that included angry rock-throwers and crying children.

"We were only walking [to the border checkpoint] so that we could be visible, so that they would recognize that we are a large group of people who just want to be heard so that international law can protect us as we migrate and seek to improve our lives," the group, calling itself Central American Exodus for Life, said in an English-language statement.

The showdown at the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing has thrown into sharp relief two competing narratives about the caravan of migrants who've aimed to apply for asylum but have gotten stuck on the Mexico side of the border.

"There are international organizations here that accept as fact that we will not be able to enter the United States and that we should be returned," the migrant statement said, "but many of those of us who are travelling have to continue trying because they will kill us if we return to our countries."

Migrants stuck in Mexico face difficult decision

With hopes of asylum in the U.S. dimming, thousands of Central American migrants stranded in Tijuana must decide whether to stick it out or return home; Jeff Paul reports.

In their statement, the migrants made five requests, including an end to what they called "arbitrary, manipulative and involuntary deportations"; an accelerated process for applying for asylum in the U.S.; a permanent accommodation for migrants wishing to stay in Mexico, to be negotiated by that country's incoming government; the public release of the identities of deported migrants; and "Human Rights accompaniment at all times and during an detention to prevent the violation of migrant human rights."

U.S. officials Tuesday lowered the number of arrests in Sunday's confrontation to 42 from 69. Rodney Scott, chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector, said the initial count included some arrests in Mexico by Mexican authorities who reported 39 arrests. Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement that it would immediately deport the people arrested on its side of the border and would reinforce security.

On Monday, President Trump defended the use of tear gas by border agents, saying "they were being rushed by some very tough people."

"Here's the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally," the president said.

Scott also defended the agents' decisions to fire tear gas into Mexico, saying they were being attacked by "a hail of rocks."

Controversy after border agents clash with caravan migrants

U.S. border agents fire tear gas into Mexico to stop group of migrants from breaching border; reaction and analysis on ‘The Five.’

"That has happened before and, if we are rocked, that would happen again tomorrow," he told reporters.

The city of Tijuana said that as of Monday, 5,851 migrants were at a temporary shelter, 1,074 were women, 1,023 were children and 3,754 were men, including fathers traveling with families, along with single men.

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The U.S. military said Monday that about 300 troops who had been deployed in south Texas and Arizona as part of a border security mission have been moved to California for similar work.

The military's role is limited largely to erecting barriers along the border and providing transportation and logistical support to Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the administration's concerns about the caravan "were borne out and on full display" Sunday.

McAleenan said hundreds — perhaps more than 1,000 — people attempted to rush vehicle lanes at the San Ysidro crossing. Mexican authorities estimated the crowd at 500. The chaos followed what began as a peaceful march to appeal for the U.S. to speed processing of asylum claims.

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McAleenan said four agents were struck with rocks but were not injured because they were wearing protective gear.

Border Patrol agents launched pepper spray balls in addition to tear gas in what officials said were on-the-spot decisions made by agents. U.S. troops deployed to the border on Trump's orders were not said to have been involved in the operation.

Fox News’ Lee Ross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.