Central American 'migrant caravan' reaches US-Mexico border

Activists Send Lawyers To Border To Coach 'Caravan' Asylum Seekers

Hundreds of immigrants, the remnants of a caravan of Central Americans that began nearly a month ago, set out on the last leg of their journey north in Mexico.

Ministers from Mexico, Canada and United States also met in the USA capital as they rushed to seal a quick deal on updating NAFTA.

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.

The Department of Homeland Security says it is monitoring the caravan, promising to enforce USA immigration laws and accusing the migrants of having "the apparent intention of entering the United States illegally".

Busloads of migrants began arriving on Tuesday at a shelter that was a five minute-walk from the border and within sight of a USA flag waving under an overpass connecting the two countries.

About 130 Central Americans seeking asylum and traveling in a caravan made it to Tijuana, Mexico, which sits on the Mexico-U.S. border about 20 miles south of San Diego, Wednesday evening, Reuters reported. Past caravans aimed to call attention to problems with Mexico's asylum systemand treatment of migrants in Mexico, which also has deported thousands of Central Americans.

KPBS's Guerrero spoke to Jeimy Pastora Castro in Tijuana, outside the port of entry. Her three sons remain in Honduras, in hiding.

One of those hoping to get into the U.S.is Jovanne Torres from El Salvador.

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

Two San Diego attorneys we consulted say the asylum process is lengthy and far more involved than some might think.

Event organizers say they are marching in the name of migrants who "suffer repression and violence in their own country and for their human right to seek asylum in the country of their choice".

Central Americans fleeing violence have found it hard to receive asylum based on gang violence waiting for them at home, as NPR's Eyder Peralta reported in 2016.

Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen warned this week that any person trying to cross into the US who makes false claims to immigration authorities will subject to criminal prosecution. The U.S. has tended to identify those people as fleeing crime, which is not grounds for asylum, rather than individual persecution.

The immigrants' arrival comes the day after a third federal judge dealt a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to end protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the USA as children.

But to qualify for asylum, or be rejected, a migrant must first be processed at the border.

Turning away someone seeking asylum without considering his claim violates national and global law.

The AP said U.S. Customs and Border Protection has room to hold about 300 people at the crossing.

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