Caravan of Central American Asylum Seekers Greeted by Supporters at Border
30 April, 2018, 11:55
Another 300 migrants traveling with the group plan to remain in Mexico.
The migrants marched from Friendship Park in Tijuana, Mexico to the San Ysidro port of entry on Sunday.
USA border authorities said Saturday that some people associated with the caravan had already been caught trying to slip through the fence and encouraged the rest to report to authorities.
The Trump administration has described the group as a threat, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan as "a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system".
After traveling for more than a month from Central America, about 400 migrants have begun arriving at the U.S. -Mexico border in Tijuana.
"As sufficient space and resources become available, CBP officers will be able to take additional individuals into the port for processing", Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said.
Administration officials have railed against what they call America's "catch and release" policies that allow people requesting asylum to be released from custody into the US while their claims make their way through the courts, a process that can last a year.
Saturday night, President Trump threatened to shut down the federal government in September if Congress does not approve more funding to build a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border. Most of those seeking asylum are Honduran women and children, but some are from El Salvador.
A handful of Central American migrants scaled the border fence dividing the USA and Mexico.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved "efficiently and expeditiously" but said the asylum-seekers should seek it in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico. Some have dispersed, and others chose to stay in Mexico. Heather Crone of advocacy group Show Up for Racial Justice told the news agency that she had found 80 people willing to sponsor caravan members.
Asylum seekers are often released to family in the US but some don't have any and seek sponsors. But instead they chose to head for the US for job opportunities or to reconnect with family - the reasons most illegal immigrants attempt to jump the border.
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Irineo Mujica, one of the organizers for Pueblos Sin Fronteras which is assisting the asylum seekers, accompanied them to the inspectors.
This year's was the largest caravan yet.
Wendi Yaneri Garcia says she's confident she'll be released while her asylum case is pending because she's traveling alone with a 2-year-old son who's been sick. She says she received death threats after being released.
"There are people who think I just woke up and said, 'Oh, I want to just go to the United States.' It's not that easy", she said.
Central Americans in a caravan of asylum seekers that traveled through Mexico to the border with San Diego have left a cross-border rally as they prepare to turn themselves in to US authorities. It was not clear how long it might take for the initial group to be seen by US border officials. Many are fleeing violence in their home countries and will ask the US for asylum. The refugees milled about at Playas de Tijuana on the Mexican side of the fence near its terminus at the Pacific Ocean.
Maria de Los Angeles, 17, said she felt confident after speaking with an attorney that US authorities would release her while her case moves through the courts because she was traveling alone with her 1-year-old son.
The 17-year-old hoped to move in with a sister in San Francisco and said she believed "everything will work out". A migrant who gave her name as Katerine sat in Tijuana with her baby girl, Ashley, on her lap.
The migrants were cheered on the San Diego side by USA immigration activists. They had backpacks and blankets and were hoping to get their turn Monday to approach the US facility. Asked how he felt as he boarded the bus, Nefi Hernandez replied, "Nervous". Others sat quietly, clutching infants, wondering what awaits them in US custody.
The Central Americans will test the administration's tough rhetoric when they begin seeking asylum at San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing, the nation's busiest.
Immigration officials have also announced that they will separate mothers and fathers from their children, potentially sending them to locations hundreds of miles from one another. Since "Fox and Friends" reported on the caravan early this month, the president has repeatedly tweeted about it and called for the National Guard to help secure the Mexican border.
Before the group arrived on Sunday, US Customs and Border Protection officials said the port had already reached full capacity, and migrants trying to get into the US may need to wait in Mexico as officials process those already in the facility.
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