Department of Homeland Security officials said Monday that they started to get information from “multiple sources including individuals in the Mexican government” of potential waves or groups of individuals who were discussing an incursion into legal ports of entry in California by attempting to pass through vehicle lanes.
The officials briefed reporters that the information led to Customs and Border Protection to suspend northbound traffic for about three hours at San Ysidro in San Diego, California, to “add more control measures.” San Ysidro is now operating with 15 vehicle lanes of traffic, down from 23 on Sunday and 26 on most regular days.
One Homeland Security official acknowledged that the additional measures may increase wait times for “legitimate trade and travel.”
The Mexican government also deployed resources in Otay Mesa and San Ysidro as precautionary measure, said the officials.
“All of these measures we have had to take to address the caravan has had an impact on the border environment,” a Department of Homeland Security official said.
In preparation for the caravan arrival, the official said Customs and Border Protection has deployed nearly 600 more Customs and Border Protection officers and 250 Border Patrol agents to areas of the border where caravan members are believed headed. In addition, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has moved resources from interior offices to other locations with large detention facilities to manage more expected cases at or near the border.
“Unfortunately, this means that we need to pull resources off of some of our other critical national security and public safety missions,” said one Homeland Security official, referring to ports of entry. “Our at-large enforcement teams that primarily focus on criminal aliens and public safety threats are having to be redeployed to deal with the influx of individuals that are now in custody as a result of the increased crossing both between and at the POEs.”
Earlier this month, the administration issued a new rule, and President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation intended to bar most migrants who cross into the US illegally over the southern border from seeking asylum.
Those cases are now making their way through the system, according to another DHS official.
The official said 107 individuals are subject to the new asylum restrictions under the recent presidential proclamation, pending a protection screening interview.
“Protection screening interviews for those individuals are underway,” the official said.