‘Caravan’ Migrants Seeking Asylum Told San Ysidro Is at Capacity

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Members of the migrant caravan approach the wall in Tijuana. Courtesy Pueblo sin Fronteras

While a couple hundred people traveling in a migrant “caravan” from Central America were planning to seek asylum in the United States Sunday, Customs and Border Protection officials said the San Ysidro Port of Entry is at capacity for people without documentation.

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“Depending upon port circumstances at the time of arrival, those individuals may need to wait in Mexico as CBP officers work to process those already within our facilities,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement. “As sufficient space and resources become available, CBP officers will be able to take additional individuals into the port for processing.

“CBP will communicate with Mexican authorities for operational awareness on this issue of capacity within CBP facilities as appropriate,” he added.

Earlier in the day, some of the caravan travelers — many of whom say they’re fleeing violence in their home countries — were at a cross-border rally 6 miles west of the port of entry. The refugees milled about at Playas de Tijuana on the Mexican side of the fence near its terminus at the Pacific Ocean. North of the fence, another 50 supporters rallied in Friendship Park, at the southern end of the United States’ Pacific Coast.

Some supporters of the caravan scaled the border fence, apparently clamoring up from the Mexican side, although no one attempted to cross north into the United States.

A group of 200 or so people, mostly women and children, began arriving in Tijuana on Tuesday, NBC San Diego reported. The citizens of countries in Central America and their caravan leaders, a group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, told the Los Angeles Times that the migrants are asylum-seekers fleeing from dangers in their home countries. The Times reported that “no more than 200 of the group will go to the Tijuana-San Diego crossing and request U.S. protection.”

Over the weekend, they’ve been engaging in legal orientation sessions to understand their rights and what to expect at the U.S. entrance, the Times reported.

In San Diego on Saturday, a group of demonstrators marched from Balboa Park to Chicano Park.

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The caravan has been making national headlines for the past month after catching the attention of President Donald Trump. It first began with about 1,000 people March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border, drawing comments from Trump as evidence of what he and his aides portrayed as a significant threat, the Post reported.

In the intervening month, the caravan migrants’ numbers have dwindled significantly.

Customs and Border Protection officials said on Saturday that some of the migrants in the caravan had tried to cross the border near San Ysidro since Friday. No estimate was given on the number of border-crossing attempts that had taken place.

Young children — and in one case, a pregnant woman — were detected among people trying to enter the U.S. illegally through “a dark, treacherous canyon that is notorious for human and drug smuggling,”  CBP Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott said

Scott said it was “unconscionable” that children were being smuggled into the country in what he referred to as dangerous conditions.

In the statement, he warned the remaining caravan members to follow the law.

“If anyone has encouraged you to illegally enter the United States, or make any false statements to U.S. government officials, they are giving you bad advice and they are placing you and your family at risk,” he said.

“We are a very welcoming country but just like your own house, we expect everyone to enter through our front door and answer questions honestly. On a national level that front door is the Ports of Entry. If you enter the United States at any place other than a Port of Entry it is a crime.”

–City News Service

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