Illegal Entry Charges Filed Against 11 in Migrant Caravan

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Migrants at the border fence in Tijuana. Courtesy Pueblo sin Fronteras

Criminal charges were filed by the Justice Department Monday against members of the Central American migrant caravan who have attempted to turn themselves in to U.S. border authorities at San Ysidro.

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Eleven people entered the U.S. illegally, including one person who allegedly was previously deported and faces a charge of illegal reentry, the federal prosecutors allege.

“When respect for the rule of law diminishes, so too does our ability to protect our great nation, its borders and its citizens,” Attorney General Jeff Session said in a statement. “The United States will not stand by as our immigration laws are ignored and our nation’s safety is jeopardized.

“U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman and his team should be commended for quickly filing illegal entry charges for individuals apprehended along the southwestern border. We will continue to work with our partners in each U.S. Attorney’s offices to aggressively pursue prosecutions of criminal illegal entry.”

Braverman followed up on Sessions’ statement.

“These 11 defendants face charges now because they believed themselves to be above the law,” he said. “Those seeking entry into the United State must pledge fidelity to the law, not break them, or else face criminal prosecution.”

The charges came the same day that Vice President Mike Pence inspected the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Imperial County, about 100 miles east of San Ysidro. where Pence visited Calexico, a couple hundred people traveling in a migrant caravan from Central America remained on the south side of the wall seeking asylum in the United States.

The migrant caravan, a yearly tradition that earlier this month drew the ire of President Donald Trump, arrived in Tijuana late last week. On Sunday, the first 50 of the roughly 200 asylum-seekers attempted to walk into the San Ysidro Port of Entry to officially begin the process of requesting safe haven, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

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But earlier Sunday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said that the San Ysidro Port of Entry was already at capacity for people without documentation.

“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,” 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.”

Earlier Sunday, some of the caravan travelers — many of whom say they’re fleeing violence in their home countries — were at a cross-border rally six 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 or so 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 from that group attempted to cross north into the United States.

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

— City News Service

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