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Mexico to deport caravan migrants arrested in Tijuana back to home countries

Security forces pass by as Central American migrants — mostly Hondurans — move in a caravan toward the United States in hopes of a better life. The migrants left Mexicali, Baja California State, Mexico, on Tuesday and are heading to Tijuana. (PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

An estimated 3,000 migrants have descended on the Mexican border town of Tijuana since Wednesday, where officials have arrested 34 members of the caravan for offenses such as drug possession, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest.

Police said those taken into custody will be turned over to federal officials for deportation back to their home countries in Central America.

What are the details?

Last week, the caravan began pouring into Tijuana en route to the U.S. border. The migrants were met with protests from hundreds of local residents, who took to the streets yelling, "Out! Out!"

The Washington Times reported Tuesday that not all of the caravan's estimated 4,000 to 6,000 members had reached Tijuana yet, but officials there are sending any misbehaving migrants back to where they came from.

National Public Radio reported that Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said of the caravan last week, "I would dare say that not all of them are migrants. Sure, there are some good people in the caravan, but many are very bad for the city."

Speaking on Mexican television, Gastelum continued, "Some of them are a bunch of bums, smoking marijuana in the street, and attacking our families in Playas de Tijuana. Who is leading them?"

A story from Slate said Gastelum has threatened to deport migrants under Article 33 of Mexico's Constitution, which says foreigners whose presence becomes "inconvenient" can be booted from the country.

"Tijuana is a city of migrants, but we just don't want them this way," Gastelum explained. "They are aggressive, vulgar and they bully authorities."

Gastelum has been seen sporting a MAGA-style red "Make Tijuana Great Again" hat, according to NPR.

Anything else?

Tijuana has been overwhelmed with caring for the unexpected visitors, donating food and creating temporary shelters. AZCentral reported last week that local officials said they only have the resources to accommodate the migrants for a few weeks, and asked the federal government for $4 million to assist.

Dr. Allen Keller from New York's Bellevue Hospital has been working as a volunteer at a Tijuana sports complex, which has been turned into a makeshift shelter.

"This is a public health emergency waiting to happen — especially as more people arrive from this and other caravans," he told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday.

The U.S. has fortified barriers along the border in Tijuana, and stepped up security to prevent migrants from illegally crossing over from Mexico.

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