Mexican Mayor Blasts Migrants, Calls Them ‘Pot Smokers’ And ‘Bums’ As 108 Caravan Members Are Arrested

Members of the migrant caravan charge their phones.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

The embattled mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, has had nothing but harsh words for the unexpected influx of migrants into his city. According to RT, Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum is currently calling on his own federal government — as well as members of the United Nations — to offer their financial and organizational assistance in dealing with the nearly 5,000 caravan members who have so far arrived in his jurisdiction. Speaking during a press conference, he made his case on this point crystal clear.

“We do not have the necessary and sufficient infrastructure to fully attend to these people to give them a decent space… I will not spend Tijuanans’ money, I will not bring Tijuana into debt now, in the same way, we haven’t done so these past two years.”

Gastelum, who is at political odds with the greater Mexican government as well as with his own electorate — having fallen to approval ratings in the single digits, per RT — finds himself on the popular side of the debate with regards to the migrant issue. Some locals appear to support his anti-migrant positioning, with a small protest taking place this past Sunday, November 18, which saw dozens of Tijuanan residents take to the streets chanting “Long Live Mexico,” and “Tijuana First!”

Though the controversial mayor of Tijuana was forced — by public pressure — to recant his previous statements that the migrants were “bums” and “pot smokers” who were primarily interested in upsetting the “tranquility and security of Tijuana,” there have been some problematic altercations between the new arrivals and the established authorities.

Tijuana’s city law enforcement authorities have released statements, per El Sol de Tijuana, that 108 Central American migrants have so far been arrested. Of that group of lawbreakers, 104 of them were minor crimes — including drug possession, public disturbance, and public intoxication. The remaining four were brought up on more serious charges of insulting authorities, robbery and inciting violence.

Earlier reporting from the Washington Times indicates that at least 34 of the migrants charged with the aforementioned offenses will be deported back to their home nations.

Still, it seems that the tension is far from over. The mayor has described many of the recent refugee claimants as having “arrived all of sudden, with a lot of people – not all … but a lot – were aggressive and cocky.” His response is notably different from his statements made about the influx of Haitian immigrants last year, where he detailed how they “arrived with their papers, with a clear vision… in an orderly way, they never asked us for food or shelter.”

As the Washington Times reports, most members of the Central American caravan have already refused repeated offers from the Mexican government of residency and asylum.