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San Ysidro Border Rush Had Been Planned For A Week

Deported migrants and others tried to rush U.S. Border Patrol agents just west of San Ysidro last Sunday, in hopes that some would get through to the U.S.

Above: A Border Patrol statement says several agents were hit in the arms and legs with rocks and one was hit in the head by a water bottle during the confrontation. But there were no serious injuries.

Deported migrants attempted a once-common tactic of rushing the border en masse on Sunday. But Border Patrol agents met them with tear gas and rubber bullets and forced them to turn back.

Aired 11/26/13 on KPBS News.

Authorities say more than 100 people had crossed into the U.S. west of the San Ysidro border checkpoint and became unruly when a border agent tried to stop them and then fired pepper balls. Deportees in Tijuana said plans to rush the border had been in the works for a week.

Deportees in Tijuana said plans to rush the border had been in the works for a week.

It all started with a guy handing out pocket-sized fliers at the Padre Chava breakfast hall for migrants and deportees in Tijuana. The fliers called for a mass border crossing on Nov. 24.

“So that we can reunite with our children, families,” the flier read in small, Spanish text.

“So that we can reunite with our children, families,” the flier read in small, Spanish text. “And for those who want the American dream and so that we can help our families succeed,” the flier continued in rambling fashion, ending with a call for discretion and “Sí se puede!” written three times.

“And for those who want the American dream and so that we can help our families succeed,” the flier continued in rambling fashion, ending with a call for discretion and “Sí se puede!” written three times.

Bruno Alvarez Jimenez, a deported migrant who has helped serve breakfast at Padre Chava’s hall for more than a year, said the organizer showed up daily to rally participants. But people were skeptical.

“There was a lot of indecision among those who organized this,” Alvarez said, adding that the proposed time for attempting the border rush kept changing.

“People didn’t take it very seriously,” he said.

The mysterious lead organizer — Alvarez said he’d never seen him before at the breakfast hall, where most diners are regulars — announced that there would be three groups of would-be border crossers.

One would attempt to cross near San Ysidro, one at Playas de Tijuana, near the coast, and one in the Otay Mesa area.

Alvarez didn’t know if the latter two groups actually tried to cross. A Border Patrol spokesperson said agents hadn’t encountered any other large groups attempting to cross last Sunday afternoon. 

Alvarez estimates that more than 200 people showed up on Sunday to join the border rush — or at least to watch. Border Patrol said the group numbered “more than 100.”

They met in the trash-strewn Tijuana River canal, about a quarter-mile west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

At around 2 p.m., part of the group approached a Border Patrol agent stationed at an opening in the fence that lines the northern side of the canal. When they didn’t back off, the agent fired pepper balls at the crowd.

More agents showed up and some people threw rocks and plastic bottles at them too.

“Unfortunately there’s always somebody who doesn’t think,” Alvarez said, adding that he thought the guy who started the rock throwing wasn’t even part of the group attempting to cross.

“They made us all look bad,” Alvarez said of the provocateurs, “because we were just planning to run, not confront (the Border Patrol agents) or provoke them.”

In the end, several people were injured by rubber bullets and — according to accounts in the Mexican press — Tasers.

The Border Patrol did not respond to an interview request. In a statement, the agency said several agents were struck with rocks in the arms and legs, and one agent was hit in the head with a water bottle.

In the statement, Paul Beeson, chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector said, "The agents showed great restraint when faced with the dangers of this unusually large group.” He added that no one was injured seriously.

Mass border crossings were common in the San Diego area in the 1990s. Back then, agents often were easily outnumbered and lacked the technology and infrastructure to stop at least some people from getting through during mass crossings.

Since then, the size of the Border Patrol has increased five-fold and a triple-layer fence has been built across much of San Diego’s border zone.

In the wake of Sunday’s skirmish, Alvarez said he worried how Border Patrol agents would treat people like him, who repeatedly attempt to cross the border. He’s tried three times to get back to El Monte, Calif., where he said he lived for 13 years before getting deported. 

“That’s where I built my estate,” he said. “I left my house there, my cars, my wife, my son.”

He said he and his fellow deportees who joined the mass border-crossing attempt did it knowing full well they could get caught and thrown in jail. But with better planning and a more prepared leader, Alvarez thinks some could have gotten through to the U.S.

“He didn’t know how follow through what he was organizing,” Alvarez said of the leader. 

From now on, Alvarez said, he’d keep trying to cross on his own.  

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 27, 2013 at 11:52 a.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

They need to try again with more people. Maybe like 50,000 or 100,000. I am sure a lot would get through, I doubt we would start mowing them down by the thousands, but maybe.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | November 27, 2013 at 12:14 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

"Sí se puede! Sí se puede! Sí se puede!"

===

And then they promptly threw rocks at Border Patrol agents attempting to cause severe injuries or death.

These are very bad people. They only wish to harm our communities, disobey our laws, and spit in the face of every legal immigrant in America.

Thankfully those bad people were all repelled, but regular citizens should be on the lookout, too, as the Border Patrol misses many of them.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 27, 2013 at 12:34 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I know a way to put a quick stop to this if they keep doing it. Just start shooting them as soon as they illegally step onto US soil. That will be the last time anyone tries something like this.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 27, 2013 at 2:43 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

No, CA Off, the very bad people are the racists and the nativists, the politicians like Congressman King of Ida-ho and the Rohrabachers, the AM Hate Radio cultural chauvinists like Miichael Spewage, etc.

The organizer of this, Alvarez, says above, "there's always someone who doesn't think," referring to the persons or person who threw the rock(s). So clearly this wasn't part of the plan. Even so, Alvarez is manipulating them, not helping them. This isn't something I would advocate. there is a group in Tijuana that is collecting clothes and sleeping bags for those in the canal areas, and I am all for that.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | November 27, 2013 at 3:47 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Missionfailed,

Racism is bad, that is true, but it has NOTHING to do with this discussion. Nor does nativism (although protecting natives cultures is a very good thing).

AM radio and Idaho politicians? Come on Missionfailed, you're clearly out of defensible points to scrape the bottom of the barrel like that.

Get ON TOPIC or admit your position on illegal immigration is untenable.

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Avatar for user 'MaoTzu'

MaoTzu | November 28, 2013 at 6:45 a.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

So Migra used force and people who were not a part of the action replied with rocks, interesting.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | November 28, 2013 at 8:52 a.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

European settlers murdered the natives and stole their land. This is how we got to modern America.

Remind me again why this should be ignored.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | November 28, 2013 at 11:55 a.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I see your point, Anon. This modern day invasion of a foreign population attempting to marginalize and displace the native Californian population is exactly the same thing that happened centuries ago.

I hope you stand with me in celebrating and preserving the native Californian culture this Thanksgiving.

A happy Californian Thanksgiving to all!

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | November 28, 2013 at 12:51 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The damage has been done, and I'm not necessarily advocating an eye for an eye approach.

The way to balance this problem as effectively as possible would be more open immigration, and fair trade instead of free trade.

Immigration (especially illegal immigration) was not as prominent in the years the US had the recession, when job opportunities weren't as plentiful. If we took strides to close the imbalance between the two neighboring economies, we would have less problems with illegal immigration and long waits for legal immigration, because we will have created an economic condition which doesn't provide a great incentive to do so.

As for the whole job issue, before it even goes there:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/26/farm-labor-shortages_n_3996502.html
http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/free/20131020shutdown-farm-labor-shortage.html
http://business.time.com/2012/09/21/bitter-harvest-u-s-farmers-blame-billion-dollar-losses-on-immigration-laws/
http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/04/13/464152/georgia-farmers-worker-shortage-immigrants/

Americans don't seem to want to work. So whose jobs are really being taken?

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | November 29, 2013 at 2:26 p.m. ― 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Eye for an eye? No illegal alien is native to America, so that is impossible to begin with.

However, a major effort to restore Native American lands, wealth, and culture is needed, but the unmitigated influx of illegal aliens is further marginalizing and diverting precious resources from them.

I agree that we must have a fair temporary worker program that brings manual laborers over the border for a fixed period of time and then returns them back home.

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