A group of over 300 migrants has reached Friendship Park in Tijuana, their last stop in Mexico on their journey to the U.S. border. They are expected to complete that journey on Sunday afternoon when they reach the Tijuana-San Diego crossing point named San Ysidro to request asylum. An organization called Pueblo Sin Fronteras coordinated the caravan’s travel. They provide protection from the elements and criminals, and help migrants deal with law enforcement officials on their journey.
This caravan of migrants is not unusual. There have been multiple such groups over the last several years. This particular one began on March 25 and has gained national attention due to some tweets in which President Trump has attacked the migrants, saying that he has directed the Department of Homeland Security not to let them into the United States.
CNN reports that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that anyone in the caravan who attempts to enter the country illegally, as well as anyone assisting or coaching them, will be prosecuted as allowed by law. She and others believe that the migrants are being taught what to say, even if it’s false, in order to improve their chances of gaining asylum. Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott has stated that some individuals associated with the group of migrants did try to enter the U.S. illegally by climbing a metal fence.
“We are a very welcoming country, but just like your own house, we expect everyone to enter through the front door and answer questions honestly,” he said in a statement.
Members of the caravan claim to be seeking asylum due to very real dangers in their home countries.
“People who have a legitimate fear of persecution under U.S. law have a right to present their case. That’s not a violation of immigration law. That’s a part of immigration law,” Rep Zoe Lofgren, the top Democrat on the House subcommittee for Immigration said.
A group of up to 200 people, as part of the caravan that will seek asylum, took part in legal orientation sessions on Friday and Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The sessions are meant to prepare them for what to expect once they reach the point of entry and to apprise them of their rights.
President Trump and some of his aides have portrayed the migrant caravan as a serious danger and a sign of inefficient border control. Secretary Nielsen states that resources are being provided to ensure that asylum cases stemming from the migrant caravan are heard and settled as quickly as possible. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated that he may assign more immigration justices to expedite the process.