Hundreds of migrants from caravan group reach USA border

Central American migrants travel on a truck after hitching a ride in Tepotzotlan Mexico as they resume their journey north after leaving the temporary shelter in Mexico City. A small group of migrants have already reached the U.S. border. (AP

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Mattis authorized the deployment of thousands of active duty troops to the southwest border last month to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

Tijuana, in the Mexican state of Baja California, is just 17 miles from the Californian city of San Diego. It is the second group to arrive there since Sunday, when about 80 LGBTQ migrants arrived by bus.

Undeterred by a harder U.S. stance against them, the migrants have said they will continue the journey so that they can claim asylum.

Large groups of migrants have been gathering on the beach at the border fence that separates Mexico from California, shouting "We're not criminals!" in a pointed message to Trump. President Donald Trump has said the caravan of migrants amounts to an "invasion".

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US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that it is closing four lanes at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings - some of the most heavily travelled ports of entry along the US-Mexico border. Tijuana's head of migrant services said the group arrived Tuesday and immediately went to a stretch of border fence to celebrate.

While much of the caravan remained more than 1,500 miles from Tijuana in the western city of Guadalajara, about nine buses carrying some 300 caravan members were reported on Monday evening to be passing with police escort through Hermosillo, capital of the northern state of Sonora - fewer than 200 miles from the border city of Nogales and 540 miles from Tijuana. But when they arrived, they were met with anger from local residents.

For years, thousands of mainly Central American immigrants have embarked on long journeys through Central America and Mexico to reach the United States.

Many say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

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Migrants were given an opportunity by the Mexican government to obtain asylum there, including work permits, healthcare, and other aid, but they rejected the offer when it was made clear they would have to settle in southern Mexico.

Beginning 8 a.m. Tuesday, the agency will shut down three northbound lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which has about 17 total lanes, and one lane at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry, which has about a dozen lanes. Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.

The caravans became a campaign issue in the United States mid-term elections that took place in last week, with Mr Trump warning without evidence they were full of "gang members", "hardened criminals" and even Middle Eastern "terrorists".

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