Tuesday, May 1, 2018

U.S. Lets a Few Members of Migrant Caravan Apply for Asylum

Several Members of the Latin American Migrant Caravan were allowed to Step onto United States Territory to Apply for Asylum late Monday, ending a Border Standoff that had lasted more than a day and marking the beginning of the Final Chapter of the Group’s month long odyssey.

Shortly after 7 p.m. local time, Eight Migrants who, like most of the Caravan’s participants, said they were fleeing Violence in their Homeland, passed through the Metal Gate separating Tijuana from San Diego, entered the Immigration Checkpoint and began the process to Petition for Sanctuary, Caravan Organizers said.

The Contingent that was admitted included Four Children and Three Women, the Children’s Mothers, and an 18-year-old Man. The Organizers said they did not know whether more of the Migrants would be Permitted to enter Monday Night.

The News was greeted with a guarded sense of Relief by the Caravan’s Participants, many of whom had been hunkering down for more than a Day in a Makeshift Encampment at the Entrance to the Border Crossing waiting for the Logjam to break. “On one hand, I’m very happy that it’s finally beginning, that perhaps they will start to accept us little by little,” said Orfa MarĂ­n, a Honduran Immigrant who has been traveling with her Three Children and her Partner and was not among the first Group to Pass into the United States. “But on the other hand, we have to wait here until it’s our turn. It could be days.”

The Stalemate began on Sunday afternoon when Customs and Border Protection, the arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that regulates Ports of Entry, announced that it Temporarily had no more Capacity to Process Asylum Seekers at its San Ysidro Border Entry in San Diego, which abuts Tijuana.

Still, about 200 Migrants from the Caravan who intended to seek Asylum, accompanied by other Caravan Participants, Supporters, and dozens of Journalists, set off in a Procession from downtown Tijuana to the El Chaparral Border Crossing, setting up the Standoff.
Denied Entry to United States to make their Case for Sanctuary, the Migrants, nearly all of them from Central America, settled down in the Pedestrian Plaza in front of the Mexican Border Entrance.

As the cold night fell, they unpacked the few warm clothes they carried in knapsacks and plastic bags, huddled under donated blankets and ate sandwiches distributed by Volunteers. By daybreak, they had strung up plastic tarps to shield them from the sun and rain, and they vowed to stay until the Asylum Seekers among them were Permitted to step on American soil and Petition for Protection.
On Monday evening, Mr. Trump posted a message on Twitter saying that the Caravan was “openly defying our border” and showing the Weakness of the Nation’s Immigration Laws.

The Caravan’s Organizers said that the Migrants were a hardened group and that the wait, however uncomfortable, was a minor challenge compared with the challenges they had already endured, in their homelands, where they faced Violence and Poverty, and during their strenuous trip north. “This is the least of their suffering,” said Irineo Mujica, Mexico Director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the Transnational Advocacy Group that organized the Caravan.

The Caravan began on March 25th in Tapachula, a City on Mexico’s Southern Border with Guatemala, and it quickly grew to include more than 1,200 Migrants. Such Mass Migrations, which have become something of an Annual Tradition in Mexico, provide Migrants with Safety in numbers while giving Advocates a Platform to air their criticisms of Regional Migration Policies.

More than 300 Participants arrived in Tijuana last week and were joined in recent days by Supporters from Mexico and the United States, including scores of Volunteer Lawyers and Paralegals who have converged on this Border City to provide Free Consultations to the Caravan’s Participants. The Organizers and Lawyers identified the strongest Asylum Cases, about 200, most of them Children, and encouraged those People to apply for Protection, while suggesting that the Remainder seek Protection in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America.

To qualify for Asylum, Applicants must prove that they have been Persecuted or Fear Persecution based on their Race, Religion, Nationality, Political Belief, or Membership in a particular Group. People who request Protection at an American Entry Point must Submit to a Screening by an Asylum Officer, called a Credible-Fear Interview. If the Officer finds the Fear Credible, the Case is then referred to an Immigration Judge for a Full Hearing.

But until late Monday none of the Asylum Seekers among the Caravan had been allowed by Border Officials to begin the process. Migrants’ Advocates had accused the Trump Administration of Engaging in Brinkmanship for Political Gain at the Asylum Seekers’ Expense.

In a Statement late Monday announcing the Resumption of Asylum Processing at San Ysidro, Customs and Border Protection Officials explained that the Number of Undocumented People they can Process at Border Crossings depended on a range of factors including the Complexity of Cases, Translation Requirements, Detention Space, and the Number of Migrants. “As in the past when we’ve had to limit the number of people we can bring in for processing at a given time, we expect that this will be a temporary situation,” the Statement said.

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