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Remnants Of Migrant Caravan To Arrive In Tijuana This Week

Central American migrants, who attended the annual Migrants Stations of the C...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Central American migrants, who attended the annual Migrants Stations of the Cross caravan for migrants' rights, get off a northern-bound train known as "La Bestia," or The Beast, as they arrive to Hermosillo, Sonora state, Mexico, Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Remnants Of Migrant Caravan To Arrive In Tijuana This Week

GUEST:

Sandra Dibble, border reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Transcript

The remnants of a caravan of Central American migrants protested in northern Mexico on Monday, even as once again they drew angry tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump. The approximately 600 migrants arrived in the northern city of Hermosillo aboard trains over the weekend.

The remnants of a caravan of Central American migrants protested in northern Mexico on Monday, even as once again they drew angry tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The mainly Central American migrants are demanding better treatment and many are planning to request asylum, either in the United States or Mexico.

"We are asking the government and migration authorities to respect the right to seek asylum," said caravan organizer Irineo Mujica. "Those who request asylum shouldn't be criminalized. It is a right ... families shouldn't be separated or punished."

RELATED: Decades-Long Struggle To Secure US-Mexico Border

The approximately 600 migrants arrived in the northern city of Hermosillo aboard trains over the weekend.

Mujica has said the migrants plan to arrive in Tijuana later this week.

Trump tweeted Monday that "I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country."

But U.S. and international asylum law prohibit countries from turning people away at the border if those people express fear of returning home.

“Literally any person who is in the United States or who arrives at the border of the United States, no matter what their immigration status is, has the right to apply for asylum," said immigration attorney Ginger Jacobs. "They don't have the right to get asylum — you know, it's not guaranteed — but they at least have the right to apply."

Many of the migrants say they are fleeing gang violence and extortion in Honduras and El Salvador.

In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department won’t let anyone from the caravan enter the country illegally but that they will continue to process asylum seekers. She added that the caravan has the "apparent intention of entering the United States illegally." The agency did not immediately respond to a question from KPBS about the basis for that assessment.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the caravan is "a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system." He also said his agency is working to ensure there are enough prosecutors and immigration judges available to deal with the caravan.

Trump, in his morning tweet, urged Mexico to stop Central Americans from flowing through its country: "Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement," he tweeted.

RELATED: Trump’s Tweets On ‘Caravans’ Crossing The Border, Annotated

In response, Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray tweeted, "It would be unacceptable to condition the NAFTA negotiations on immigration actions that are outside that framework."

"Mexico decides its own immigration policy in a sovereign manner, and Mexico's cooperation on immigration matters with the United States occurs because Mexico considers it in its own interest," Videgaray wrote.

The U.S. government "should be more understanding of the women and children in this caravan ... and the dangers they face in their countries," caravan organizer Mujica said.

RELATED: Caravan Migrants Confused By President Trump’s Angry Tweets

Nielsen of Homeland Security said her agency was working with the Justice Department in "taking a number of steps to ensure that all cases and claims are adjudicated promptly - including sending additional USCIS asylum officers, ICE attorneys, DOJ Immigration Judges, and DOJ prosecutors to the Southern border.

"DHS encourages persons with asylum or other similar claims to seek protections in the first safe country they enter, including Mexico," she said.

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