The situation at the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry has been chaotic and confusing in recent days. And reactions from the American public suggest that photos and footage from the scene serve as a sort of Rorschach test. Here’s what we know about what’s happening on the border.
By Camila Domonoske and Richard Gonzales
On Sunday, for instance, U.S. agents closed a major border crossing and fired tear gas at migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. from Tijuana, Mexico. The migrants, many of whom had been part of a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers, were protesting the slow pace with which the U.S. has been processing asylum claims.
For supporters of President Trump who advocate a crackdown on immigration, the events of Sunday showed migrants storming a protected border, confirming fears of an “invasion” of migrants defying U.S. laws.
For Trump’s critics and pro-immigration activists, the scene showed American patrol agents firing tear gas at an unarmed crowd including children, reinforcing horror over the way the U.S. is treating immigrants.
Here’s what we know about what’s happening on the border.
Is the U.S.-Mexico border currently closed?
No. The border has not been shut down. One port of entry was closed for a few hours on Sunday but has since reopened.
The port of entry in question — San Ysidro — is a big one. It’s the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. An average of 90,000 people pass north through the crossing each day, 70,000 in cars and 20,000 by foot.
Could President Trump seal the border if he wished?
Yes. It is difficult to completely secure a border more than 1,900 miles long, but ports of entry could be shut down, as USA Today explains. There is some precedent for such an action, although it’s extreme.
And as Quartz notes, that would only delay — not eliminate — the United States’ legal responsibility to hear asylum claims.