An immigrant caravan made up of over 1000 people made its way across Mexico to the United States border in order to seek political asylum. According to Rafael Bernal at The Hill, most of the people comprising the caravan were travelling from Honduras, where they were fleeing the government of newly-elected Juan Orlando Hernández. More than 200 members of the caravan reached the border, where they were initially refused entry. However, some of the asylum seekers have been allowed into the United States.
The immigrant caravan, which was organized by the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), left the Mexican city of Tapachula on March 25th, heading north toward the border. Along the way, it made stops at the Mexican Senate and Honduran consulate in Mexico City. Before that, the immigrant caravan stopped in the city of Puebla for a seminar on U.S. and Mexican refugee and asylum laws.
As the immigrant caravan moved north, members began to break off and seek asylum in Mexico. The remaining migrants made their way to the border where they stopped on the Mexican side. A number of these migrants are camped outside of the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego. Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the port of entry had reached capacity in a statement released on April 29th, according to ABC News.
Roughly 158 members of the immigrant caravan have been allowed entry into the United States to plead their cases for asylum. However, being granted asylum will not be an easy road for those who travel to the border. CNN reports that according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, over 75% of asylum seekers were rejected between 2011 and 2016.
Alex Mensing, a caravan organizer with Pueblos Sin Fronteras, told Reuters on May 3rd that 62 people were still awaiting entry to begin the process of seeking asylum. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has assigned additional judges and prosecutors to deal with the influx of asylum seekers. “We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed,” Sessions said, according to a report from The Hill, “People are not going to caravan or otherwise stampede our border. People should wait their turn.”
President Donald Trump tweeted his thoughts on the immigrant caravan, writing: “Our Southern Border is under siege. Congress must act now to change our weak and ineffective immigration laws. Must build a Wall. Mexico, which has a massive crime problem, is doing little to help!” Trump has also criticized U.S. immigration policy that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the country while their deportation is pending, which he has referred to as “catch and release” programs.
President Trump has ordered the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to present reports on what powers and resources would be needed to curb the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to CNN. Reports must be turned in within 45 days and detail what the departments are doing and what they could do in the future to reduce illegal immigration.
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