The “caravan” of Central American refugees Trump has warned about in recent weeks is expected to approach the US border on Sunday.
While many plan to seek legal asylum, several have already entered the country illegally. According to San Diego Border Patrol Agent Rodney Scott, multiple groups climbed over a scrap-metal fence near San Ysidro’s port of entry on Friday. Others, including a pregnant woman and kids under the age of four, were caught sneaking in through a canyon authorities described as dark, dangerous, and “notorious for human and drug smuggling.”
“To anyone that is associated with this caravan, think before you act,” cautions Scott. “If anyone has encouraged you to illegally enter the US, or make any false statements to US government officials, they are giving you bad advice and they are placing you and your family at risk.”
Members of the caravan began arriving by bus last week and have been gathering strength near Tijuana before making a go at the US border. The migrants were greeted Sunday morning by hundreds of supporters who waved flags and chanted on the US side of the border.
Many of those interested in seeking asylum attended legal orientations on Friday and Saturday to better understand their rights and what to expect when they reach the port of entry. At least 20 US attorneys traveled to Tijuana to warn migrants to expect the worst.
“We are the bearers of horrible news,” says LA lawyer Nora Phillips. “That’s what good attorneys are for.”
It is unclear how many migrants will be allowed to ask for asylum. In the past, Customs and Border Protection officials have capped the number of asylum requests when large groups show up at the border.
It is also unclear whether children will be separated from their parents. US law prohibits ICE from jailing children, but there is no policy that prevents the DHS from jailing parents traveling with children.
President Trump has ordered the DHS to “STOP the caravan of illegal immigrants trying to cross our WIDE-OPEN BORDER” and has reiterated demands for a border wall. Trump earlier this month dispatched thousands of National Guard troops to defend the border, but California’s Democratic Mayor, Jerry Brown, has vowed not to let them enforce federal immigration law.
At least 75 Americans in California and other states have expressed interest in opening their homes to one or more migrants.
“The willingness of these people to house these immigrants reflects that there is a division in the US and in California over the appropriate course of immigration policy,” says UC Irvine political science professor Louis DeSipio.
Americans’ divided response to the caravan is “100% about who we want to be as a nation,” says Heather Cronk, co-director of Showing Up for Racial Justice. “Not only are we providing material support…We offer a counter message. We want to make very clear to the folks who are in the caravan and those across the country that Trump’s voice is not the only voice in this country. Where Trump closes doors, we open them.”
Author’s Note: This group of people must not be allowed to enter the country. The second we let them in, we will have a tent city of thousands of people waiting at the border. The situation is awkward for the Trump Administration, but this cannot be the way we choose people for immigration.