TIJUANA, Mexico, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- The United States closed the San Ysidro Point of Entry on the California-Mexico border for about seven hours Sunday, as thousands of migrants traveling in a caravan from Central America arrived.
Some migrants reported being hit with tear gas as they approached a border fence.
The migrants were waiting to cross the border when U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced via loudspeaker that the port of entry was closed. It reopened about 6 p.m. local time.
Pandemonium ensued, with many migrants storming through downtown Tijuana, looking for another way over the border. Thousands more people who were marching in support of the caravan added to the chaos.
Mexican authorities were overwhelmed. U.S. Navy and CBP helicopters flew overhead.
Three adults and a child told UPI they were hit with tear gas. Others showed empty smoke and gas canisters they said they found on the ground. One was a military-style smoke canister from Defense Technology, whose website says it emits smoke for up to two minutes.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter the San Isidro entry was closed "to ensure public safety in response to a large # of migrants seeking to illegally enter the US. They attempted to breach legacy fence infrastructure along the border & sought to harm CBP personnel by throwing projectiles @ them."
Marchers also demonstrated in support of the migrants on the U.S. side of the border, where all southbound lanes into Mexico were closed to vehicles and pedestrians, NBC San Diego reported.
Also waiting to cross the border were lawful travelers attempting to return home from the holiday weekend.
Many in the migrant caravan were parents and children.
The United States said earlier this month it would close northbound border crossings near Tijuana in advance of the caravan's arrival and President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to close the borders.
Nearly 6,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to the Mexico border.