WASHINGTON – United States authorities said on Saturday they had arrested a member of one of the migrant caravans who crossed the border illegally and threw stones at border patrol agents when they tried to arrest him.
The events took place on Friday evening in Yuma, a desert city on the southwestern border of Arizona, when border agents allegedly found footprints near the fence that separates the two countries.
“Agents radioed for a CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Air and Marine helicopter to assist and it responded a short time later. The agents tracked the suspect for almost a mile until he was encountered near a tree,” US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Saturday.
Then “the male suspect climbed up into the tree, set it on fire and began to throw rocks at agents on the ground as well as at the CBP helicopter,” it added without clarifying why the suspect responded in such a way.
None of the agents or the helicopter was hit.
The 31-year-old man eventually came down from the tree and was taken into custody where he claimed to be from Honduras.
The man apparently claimed to have traveled through Mexico as part of the migrant caravan fleeing violence and poverty that left the Central American country on Oct. 13.
“During processing, the subject was found to have several previous arrests in Florida as well as a previous deportation from the U.S. on June 4, 2018,” the statement said.
The man is being presented for prosecution and removal proceedings.
The Winterhaven Fire Department put out the tree fire.
The US government ordered the deployment of more than 5,000 regular soldiers to the southern border of the country at the end of last month to help with border security tasks.
Although initially the mission was only logistics, President Donald Trump urged the soldiers to “fight back” if they were attacked by migrants.
“Anybody throwing stones, rocks … we will consider that a firearm, because there is not much difference if you get hit in the face with a rock,” Trump said in early November.
The Pentagon reacted to Trump by stating that it could not open fire on US soil due to the 1878 law known as “Posse Comitatus,” which prohibits the military from enforcing domestic laws, including immigration laws.
On Thursday, Trump authorized the military deployed on the border with Mexico to “use lethal force” if necessary against migrants.
Through his Twitter account on Saturday he also said migrants will not be allowed into the US until their claims are approved in court.
“We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No ‘Releasing’ into the U.S...
“All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border,” he added.