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US closes major border crossing, uses tear gas on asylum seekers

US Customs and Border Protection announces traffic at the San Ysidro port of entry has been suspended.

Asylum Seekers A family run away from tear gas in front of the border wall between the US and Mexico in Tijuana [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

San Diego, California – US Customs and Border Protection closed all vehicle traffic and briefly suspended pedestrian traffic at the major San Ysidro port of entry between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California on Sunday.

The agency made the announcement about the closures on Twitter as hundreds of migrants and refugees marched towards the border in an attempt to put pressure on the US government to allow thousands of asylum seekers to enter the United States .

According to several journalists in Tijuana, US authorities used tear gas on migrants and refugees, including children, who approached the border fence near the Chaparral crossing. A small group breached the border, local media reported.

The developments on Sunday come as frustration grows in Tijuana over the slow processing of asylum claims by US authorities.

Thousands of migrants and refugees have arrived in the Mexican border city in recent weeks as part of a caravan, dubbed the Central American exodus.

Many are fleeing violence, poverty or political persecution.

More than 5,000 migrants and refugees have been cramped into a Tijuana stadium complex that is more than 2,000 people over capacity. Rights groups have accused to the US government of stalling the processing of asylum claims, allegations CBP denies.

Aerial view of Central American migrants and refugees being stopped by federal police officers near El Chaparral port of entry in the US-Mexico border [Pedro Pardo/AFP]

US President Donald Trump has sought to sow fear over the collective exodus by deploying thousands of US military troops to the border and giving them expanded powers, including the “ok” to use lethal force.

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The Trump administration also implemented new asylum rules, which have been temporarily blocked by a federal court. Under the new rules, individuals crossing the border between official ports of entry would not be eligible for asylum. A judge last week blocked the rules from being

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