US shuts down major San Diego port of entry; fires off tear gas as migrants rush border

(CNN) — US Customs and Border Protection has closed road and pedestrian bridges in both directions at the San Ysidro port of entry, one of the largest land border crossings between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

Migrants approaching the U.S. border from Mexico have been enveloped with tear gas after a few tried to breach the fence separating the two countries. U.S. agents shot the gas, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem.

The closures come as around 500 migrants overwhelmed federal and local Mexican police blockades and rushed toward the US border near Tijuana, Mexico.

Many hope to apply for asylum in the U.S., but agents at the San Ysidro entry point are processing fewer than 100 asylum petitions a day.

The crowds are made up of men, women and a lot of children, said CNN stringer Alfredo Alvarez, who is in the crowd. A few dozen Mexican police with plastic riot shields stopped the migrants well ahead of the crossing on Sunday.

Because the regular border crossings were closed, the migrants headed for the cargo area where the railroad crosses, Alvarez said.

The migrants appeared to be meters from the US border wall, he said. He could not see from his position if the migrants had managed to get across the actual border.

The migrants carried hand-painted American and Honduran flags and chanted: “We are not criminals! We are international workers!”

The agency said it has deployed extra personnel to the border crossing due to multiple planned demonstrations on both sides of the border.

“The additional personnel, which included CBP officers, US Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine agents, were recently deployed to the San Diego area from various areas around the country in preparation for the potential arrival of the caravan in Tijuana.”

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