First caravan migrants climb on US fence as hundreds reach Tijuana

TIJUANA, Mexico: About 20 Central Americans, part of a migrant caravan that left Honduras a month ago, scaled the US border fence in Tijuana in southern California on Tuesday, according to media reports and eyewitnesses.
The migrants sat on top of the fence for about 20 minutes and caused a US Border Patrol unit to be called to the scene, which observed the situation and did not step in, a Fox news affiliate reported from San Diego.
The fence, which separates Mexico from San Diego and the Border Field state park, extends into the Pacific Ocean.
Since the arrival of the migrants, border agents were seen patrolling the area in trucks, 4-wheel-drive vehicles and on horseback.
Other migrants stayed on the Mexican side of the fence, with some swimming in the sea, without the incident escalating.
This group is part of a contingent of about 360 Central Americans who arrived on Tuesday in Tijuana, in southern California, ahead of the rest of a caravan of the 5,000-strong caravan also heading for the US border.
“I feel happy, I feel glad, because thank God we are here just one step from entering the United States,” said Jose Mejia from Honduras.
“It’s not easy, but… the main thing is to reach the frontier and then see what happens,” he added.
The group arrived in Tijuana on buses. Other members of the caravan were still more than 2,000 kilometres behind in Guadalajara, where they complained that the local authorities were not providing them with vehicles.
Other groups of Central American migrants are also crossing Mexico towards the US.
Mattis defends border deployment: Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis defended the deployment of thousands of troops to the border with Mexico as he travelled there on Wednesday, saying the mission was “absolutely legal” and justified, and that it was improving military readiness.
President Donald Trump’s politically charged decision to send US troops to the Mexico border came ahead of US midterm congressional elections last week.
Trump’s supporters, including Republicans in Congress, have embraced the deployment.
But critics have assailed the decision, calling it a political stunt to drive Republican voters to the polls. They have scoffed at Trump’s comparison of caravans of Central American migrants, including women and children, to an “invasion.”
Mattis, speaking to a small group of reporters travelling with him, rejected criticism and said the deployment was the right thing to do. — dpa/Reuters