Border patrol agents scuffle with demonstrators at Border Field State Park near San Diego, Calif., on Monday. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 11 (UPI) -- More than 30 demonstrators were arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in protests that clashed with border patrol agents, authorities said.
Hundreds marched to the beach Monday in Border Field State Park, at the border south of San Diego, to call for protection for Central American migrants crossing the border. Authorities said they arrested 31 people on suspicion of trespassing, and one person for assaulting an agent.
The protest was organized by the American Friends Service Committee and included Christians, Muslims, Jewish faithful and worshipers from other religions.
"It's important for me to be here representing this love we believe in," Bishop Minerva Cacano of the United Methodist Church in Sacramento said.
The march was held on International Human Rights Day, which started a week of nationwide demonstrations with the message "Love knows no borders." Organizers said the event aimed to call attention to the immigration policies of the Trump administration.
"In the face of the Trump administration's violent rhetoric and policies, we are here to stand with border residents against militarization and for absolute protection for migrants seeking refuge and asylum," AFSC General-Secretary Joyce Ajlouny said.
Officials said border agents warned the demonstrators to stay behind the caution tape that separates the law enforcement zone by the fence, but the crowd walked into the restricted area.
"We refuse to accept that this is normal," said protester Iman Omar Suleiman, from Dallas. "You have a right to seek peace. You have a right to seek asylum."
A line of about 30 demonstrators kept inching forward, some on hands and knees and others with their arms locked. Agents subdued about 17 initially, and more when another group marched forward.
The Trump administration has made securing the border a top priority, and has spoken out against the arrival of the Central American migrants. He's also trying to build his long-promised but highly controversial border wall. Congress is in a stalemate on whether to fund the wall and other security upgrades as part of the overall spending bill. On Friday, Trump approved a stopgap measure to keep the government running for another two weeks.
In a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump blasted Democrats for not approving funding for the wall and said the military will build the remaining sections.
"They know how important it is," he wrote.
Trump also said the caravan hasn't been able to get across the border.
"They are now staying Mexico or going back to their original countries," Trump said. "Ice, Border Patrol and our Military have done a FANTASTIC JOB of securing our Southern Border."