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Central American Asylum-Seekers Continue To Arrive In Tijuana

An asylum seeking mother holds her child in Tijuana, April 25, 2018.
Jean Guerrero
An asylum seeking mother holds her child in Tijuana, April 25, 2018.
Central American Asylum-Seekers Continue To Arrive In Tijuana
Central American Asylum-Seekers Continue To Arrive In Tijuana GUEST:Jean Guerrero, fronteras reporter, KPBS News

Our top story today on the day addition, immigrants attached to what is been called the caravan moving across Mexico have been arriving in Tijuana this week. Authorities say between two and 300 people, mostly women and children will be in Tijuana before they request asylum from U.S. authorities at the border. Most of the immigrants are from Central America where they say they are in danger because of rampant game -- gang violence. Trump has tweeted about his outrage over this and he said security should not let these caravans into our country were joining me now is reporter Jean Guerrero who was in Tijuana yesterday . Welcome. Thank you. Where did you go yesterday, what did you see? First I went to the sanctuary port of entry where there are already dozens of immigrants lining up every day that have been down there. I have seen large groups of people, sitting on the ground, taking naps, just waiting for their turn to present themselves, and ask for asylum, they're basically using a ticketing system that they used with Haitian migrants that came through a couple years ago. And just trickling through but most of these migrants in the caravan to intend to prevent themselves on Sunday and a very large group and a lot of those people are going to be staying for the time being at migrant soldiers so, I went to a couple of the shelters were mostly I saw women and children, just trying to kill time until Sunday comes, watching TV, the kids playing, a lot of community members bringing pastries and toys for the kids. Did you speak to any of the immigrants? I did. So one of the people that I spoke to, was Jamie, she was a 21-year-old woman from Honduras, and I noticed her because she was crying. And cradling her baby and she just seemed very very scared. So I went up and I talked to her about her story, and what brought her here, so here is a little bit of what she had to say. I have heard they do not give asylum anymore, that the U.S. is not helping anyone. That is a lie. That they are going to deport me and take my daughter away. So, she had a really harrowing story that I heard from many of the people who were coming from Honduras. Talking about, seeing friends killed in the streets, after the presidential election, late last year, there was a very divisive election, allegations of fraud, big protests and violent clashes with the police, and people saying that they are now being targeted for their opposition, so that is why a lot of these people are coming from Honduras, to escape that violence, so the majority of the people from the caravan are from Honduras. What generally happens when someone asks for asylum at the border? Generally, when a person asks for asylum at the boards of entry, what is supposed to happen is that they are given a credible fear interview, and if they are determined to have that credible fear of returning to their country, then there supposed to have a right to present their asylum cases in court. And before they can appear in court, are they allowed into the country? Exactly, so, if a person presents themselves at the ports of entry, and then says they feel returning to the country they want asylum, officials who are posted at the border, for example border patrol, customs and border protection, do not have the right to turn these people away. They need to take them into custody and give them a hearing with an asylum officer. Is there any plan as to how the immigrants from the caravan, are going to approach the border, and ask for asylum? Like I said, some of them are already going through on their own, mostly the women and the children who just want to get across as quickly as possible, but the plan, for the caravan, is that most of these people, maybe 200 or 300 of them are planning to present themselves on Sunday. The reason that these caravans are organized, and part is because there are safety in numbers. They want to travel together, because they are often the victims of exploitation, by criminal gangs, in Mexico that either work in coordination with those in Central America, or simply target them because they are such a venerable group, so it's because of the safety numbers, but it's also because there have been increasing reports of asylum-seekers being turned away at the border. In the way that is not compliant with the laws that we have, so they are hoping that by raising awareness, and coming in these big groups and having all of this media attention will ensure that they can be taken into custody and hopefully, try to make their case. Have there been efforts to dispatch more immigration judges, or prosecutors, to the border to expedite the asylum request? Yes, so the Department of Justice, ordered U.S. attorneys to send more prosecutors and immigration judges to adjudicate these quite -- cases quickly. Exactly the numbers and how much of a resource booth there is, I am still waiting to hear back from the departments on this specific information. The department of homeland security, secretary said that there are plans to prosecute any immigrants who make false claims, or people who help them to make false claims, so there really is this idea coming out of the Trump administration that this caravan is made up of people who intend to cross the border illegally. I followed up with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, as to what their basis is for this assessment, because all of the people who halves spoken with in the caravan say that they intend to apply for asylum as that is their right but I'm still waiting to hear back from them on that. I have been speaking with reporter Jean Guerrero, thank you. Thank you.

UPDATE: 10:00 a.m., April 26, 2018

Nearly 200 more Central Americans are expected to arrive in Tijuana on Thursday, according to Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a group that has been organizing caravans of asylum seekers through Mexico.

They plan to present themselves at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Sunday.

UPDATE: 5:23 p.m., April 25, 2018:

Forty-eight people arrived in Tijuana on Wednesday, said migrant shelter coordinators with Movimiento Juventud 2000. The group is part of a larger "caravan" of about 400 asylum-seeking immigrants that has drawn the fury of President Donald Trump.

Two busloads arrived late Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Tijuana at two migrant shelters just steps from one of the most fortified stretches of border separating the U.S. from Mexico. They joined another 200 or so who arrived in Tijuana over the last week or two.

Original story:

The U.S. Department of Justice has directed U.S. attorneys to “take immediate action” to send judges and prosecutors to the border to adjudicate cases quickly.

Jeimy Pastora Castro is part of the caravan President Donald Trump's administration has accused of plotting to enter the U.S. illegally.

“I didn’t come here to cross illegally. I came here for help, for the President to have a heart since he’s a human like us and was also created by God,” she said as she cradled her baby outside the San Ysidro Port of Entry in Tijuana.

A group of people seeking asylum in the U.S. stand in line at a migrant shelter in Tijuana, April 25, 2018.
Jean Guerrero
A group of people seeking asylum in the U.S. stand in line at a migrant shelter in Tijuana, April 25, 2018.

RELATED: Remnants Of Migrant Caravan To Arrive In Tijuana This Week

Castro and most of the other asylum-seekers come from Honduras, where a divisive presidential election has led to killings in the streets.

“I’ve heard they don’t give asylum anymore, that the U.S. isn’t helping anyone, that it’s a lie, that they’re going to deport me and take my daughter away."

Trump said in a tweet Monday that he had instructed Homeland Security to turn them away.

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

KPBS has reached out to Homeland Security for clarification on its statement that the caravan intends to enter illegally, but has yet to hear back.

A group of people seeking asylum in the U.S. wait near the border in Tijuana, April 25, 2018.
Jean Guerrero
A group of people seeking asylum in the U.S. wait near the border in Tijuana, April 25, 2018.

Immigration attorney Nicole Ramos said Trump’s instruction can’t be implemented because U.S. and international law require asylum-seekers get a fair hearing.

U.S. lawyers planned to lead clinics later this week on U.S. asylum law to tell them what to expect when they seek asylum. The first groups are expected to try to enter the U.S. on Sunday.

“I think it’s just a way for him to rile up Americans who fear brown immigrants invading their borders, to create this image that a caravan of Central Americans are coming to descend upon America," Ramos said.

The caravans have been a fairly common tactic for years among advocacy groups to bring attention to Central American citizens seeking asylum in the U.S. to escape political persecution or criminal threats from gangs.

Caravan Of Asylum-Seeking Migrants Arrive In Tijuana
Central American Asylum-Seekers Continue To Arrive In Tijuana
Forty-eight people arrived in Tijuana on Wednesday, said migrant shelter coordinators with Movimiento Juventud 2000. The group is part of a larger "caravan" of about 400 asylum-seeking immigrants that has drawn the fury of President Donald Trump.

Corrected:
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.