Caravan migrants in Mexico fill new border shelter after rains force exodus

Earlier in the day, streams of migrants laden with heavy backpacks, tents and blankets, much of it soaking wet, loaded buses leaving their original migrants shelter within sight of the border. (AP)
Updated 01 December 2018
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Caravan migrants in Mexico fill new border shelter after rains force exodus

  • The move to a former outdoor concert venue after torrential rains a day earlier reduced the old shelter to a muddy, smelly mess was a welcome relief
  • Trump has dubbed the migrants an invading force that must be stopped, even threatening to shut the US border if Mexico does not deport those gathered in Tijuana

TIJUANA, Mexico: Hundreds of mostly Central American migrants poured into a new shelter on Friday as bus loads fled a filthy, flooded sports complex on the eve of a presidential inauguration in Mexico that could recast the border crisis with US President Donald Trump.
Earlier in the day, streams of migrants laden with heavy backpacks, tents and blankets, much of it soaking wet, loaded buses leaving their original migrants shelter within sight of the border.
Helicopters swooped down nearby a few times and lines of people formed quickly when bottles of water were passed out. Diapers and milk for children were also distributed.
For those among the at least 6,000 migrants who have descended upon the Mexican border city of Tijuana, just south of San Diego on the US side, the move to a former outdoor concert venue after torrential rains a day earlier reduced the old shelter to a muddy, smelly mess was a welcome relief.
“Here it’s better,” said Victor Manuel Argeta.
The 44-year-old native of Usulutan, El Salvador, spoke alongside his wife and two children as he surveyed the limited indoor space while many other caravan migrants set up simple camps in an open square in the middle of the property.
“It’s dry. We have a dry blanket. They gave us mattresses, too,” said Argeta.
He said he joined the caravan to find better job prospects in the United States.
Many of the migrants who made the trek to the East Tijuana property, some 7 miles (11 km) from the border, appeared thankful to be out of the muck even if most will sleep on thin mattresses on a cold, hard floor.
Jorge Alberto Lobo, 21, also from El Salvador, was eager to leave the old shelter as he packed up his few belongings.
“I have the dream, I think we all had it, to get to the other side, to the United States,” he said, but quickly adding that if he does not make it he will likely stay put in Mexico and look for work.
’Respect’
On Saturday, Mexico’s leftist president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will take the oath of office in the capital as he seeks to make good on campaign promises to alienate poverty and inequality, in part to help stem the flow of Mexico’s own migrants.
The former mayor of Mexico City has welcomed the caravan migrants in speeches, pledging to offer work visas and even jobs building a major train line he has proposed.
The day before his inauguration, Lopez Obrador was resting with friends at this ranch in southern Chiapas state, near the border with Guatemala, and reaffirmed his support for the migrants.
“Progressive, democratic governments respect migrants, respect the right all of us have as human beings to search out a better life. It’s the most important human right,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
He made a point of reflecting on the history of migrants north of the border.
“The United States is a country that became a powerhouse because of the work, effort and intelligence of migrants,” he said.
Trump, conversely, has dubbed the migrants an invading force that must be stopped, even threatening to shut the US border if Mexico does not deport those gathered in Tijuana.
To date, Mexican officials have ignored the threat.


Gangsters attack train passengers in Hong Kong after night of violent protests

Updated 24 min 48 sec ago
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Gangsters attack train passengers in Hong Kong after night of violent protests

  • Groups of men in white were seen by eye-witnesses with poles and bamboo staves at a nearby village
  • The Hospital Authority said 45 people were injured in the Yuen Long attack
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s opposition Democratic Party is investigating attacks by suspected triad gangsters on train passengers on Sunday, after a night of violence opened new fronts in the political crisis now deepening across the city.
Screams rang out when men, clad in white t-shirts and some armed with poles, flooded into the rural Yuen Long station and stormed a train, attacking passengers, according to footage taken by commuters and Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting.
Some passengers had been at an anti-government march and the attack came after several thousand activists surrounded China’s representative office in the city, later clashing with police.
Lam, who was injured in the attack, said he was angry about a slow police response after he alerted them to the trouble, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported.
Lam said it took police more than an hour to arrive after he alerted them and they had failed to protect the public, allowing the triads to run rampant. The party is now investigating.
“Is Hong Kong now allowing triads to do what they want, beating up people on the street with weapons?,” he asked reporters.
Police said early on Monday they had not made any arrests at the station or during a follow-up search of a nearby village but were still investigating.
Yau Nai-keung, Yuen Long assistant district police commander, told reporters that an initial police patrol had to wait for more reinforcements given a situation involving more than 100 people.
Groups of men in white were seen by eye-witnesses with poles and bamboo staves at a nearby village but Yau said police saw no weapons when they arrived.
“We can’t say you have a problem because you are dressed in white and we have to arrest you. We will treat them fairly no matter which camp they are in,” Yau said. Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of sometimes violent protests for more than two months in its most serious crisis since Britain handed the Asian financial hub back to Chinese rule in 1997.
Protesters are demanding the full withdrawal of a bill to allow people to be extradited to mainland China for trial, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party, fearing it would undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence.
They are also demanding independent inquiries into the use of police force against protesters.
On Sunday police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse activists on the edge of Hong Kong’s glittering financial district after they had fled China’s Liaison Office.
The Chinese government has condemned the action, which saw signs and a state symbol daubed with graffiti.
The unrest in Hong Kong marks the greatest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
The Hospital Authority said 45 people were injured in the Yuen Long attack, with one in a critical condition. Some 13 people were injured after the clashes on Hong Kong island, one seriously, the authority said.
Some police had been injured in the clashes after protesters hurled bricks, smoke grenades and petrol bombs, said a police statement.