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Some Active Duty Soldiers Deployed To U.S.-Mexico Border Moved To California


Some active-duty soldiers deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border are moving. The Pentagon says that over the weekend, 300 shifted from Texas and Arizona to California. That brings the total there to 1,800. Most of the migrants in the so-called caravan have ended up on Mexico's border with California, which is also where we find NPR's David Welna today. Hey, David.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Hey, I can hear some sound behind you. Where exactly on the border are you?

WELNA: I am on the Tijuana side of the border across from San Diego, Calif. I'm actually just about half a block from the actual border barrier. There's a double barrier there to keep people from crossing illegally. And I am right outside a sports stadium that's been used to house the caravans of people who've come from Central America here.

Right now, there are about 5,700 people in this stadium that was - whose capacity has already been surpassed. There are many tents on the street outside. About 3,700 of those people are men, about 1,000 are women and about 1,000 are children. And they're milling around. There are people lounging on the sidewalks. Everybody is just here waiting, waiting to see what's going to happen next.

KELLY: Yeah. And as you speak to some of them, what kind of stories are they telling you? What are they telling you about what they might do next?

WELNA: Well, there are different opinions about what to do next. As I arrived here this morning, there was a van that was filling up with young men from Honduras. Eight of them in the end got in. They had been offered a free trip home by the Mexican government - all expenses paid. And they were people who decided that it just wasn't worth it to stay here and try to get into the U.S. They've given up hope. And I talked to one of them who said, look; you know, I got gassed on Sunday when there was a kind of a mini riot near the border, the U.S. - the border guards fired on them. He said, I'm coming back, but I'm going to wait for a year before I come back.

KELLY: And what about the people who live there who are permanently in Tijuana? How are they reacting to suddenly being the center of international attention and to these thousands of migrants now camped out in their yards literally?

WELNA: Well, from the people I've talked to here, opinions seemed to be somewhat divided between those who feel sympathy for these migrants. They say Mexico has a long tradition of welcoming people and treating people well and that they should do the same here. And then there are others who say, you know, these people just bring problems. And either the United States has to deal with this or Mexico should send these people home, but we should not be bearing the brunt of this.

The city of Tijuana, according to officials here, is paying almost all of the costs of housing these people here. They're not getting help from their federal government. And there's a lot of resentment towards the federal government in Mexico as well.

KELLY: And before I let you go, David, give us just a quick update on what is happening on the other side of the border, the U.S. side of the border today.

WELNA: Right. I was there this morning. You would not know that there is a big crisis as we've been told at the border. I talked to Border Patrol agents who said, no, things are calm, things are just really as they've been before. There is not a visible presence of active duty Army troops, even though they're in this region. And it really seemed to be business as usual. There did not seem to be any sense of any kind of emergency going on here.

KELLY: All right. Thank you, David.

WELNA: You're welcome, Mary Louise.

KELLY: NPR's David Welna reporting from Tijuana, Mexico. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.