Caravan Arrives In Tijuana, As Migrants Prepare To Request Asylum

Immigrants pause at a rest stop after traveling by freight train on their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border

Immigrants pause at a rest stop after traveling by freight train on their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border

After an arduous weeks-long journey across Mexico, as many as 130 Central American asylum seekers are expected to arrive at the US border this weekend, despite warnings from the Trump administration that they could face arrest.

Journalists were not allowed inside the sessions for about 300 migrants that took place at a civic group's office, at Tijuana's largest migrant shelter and at an art gallery in a building that once housed a cross-border tunnel used to smuggle drugs into San Diego.

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The group now waiting in Tijuana is composed of migrants from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, who have made the trek across Mexico an annual event for the last several years.

The group is a part of a larger caravan, almost 400 people in all, looking to seek asylum at the the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

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Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he had directed DHS to turn away caravan members at the border.

The timing of the migrants arrival could compromise a flurry of talks this week to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump has repeatedly threatened to scrap if Mexico does not crack down on the flow of Central Americans through its territory. At least one group opposed to the caravan has said it has undefined plans to protest this weekend in the San Diego area.

"I didn't come here to cross illegally".

She plans to give the Central Americans advice for their asylum cases before many of them cross on Sunday.

A judge ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which paved the way for two-year renewable work permits for undocumented migrants brought to the U.S. as children, must re-start after 90 days if the Trump administration can not offer an explanation as to why it is illegal. "If you enter the United States illegally, let me be clear - you've broken the law, and we will enforce the law through prosecution of illegal borders", Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. The U.S. has tended to identify those people as fleeing crime, which is not grounds for asylum, rather than individual persecution.

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USA lawyers are expected to hold clinics this week to explain what the immigrants should expect during their applications for asylum.

As NPR's John Burnett reported a year ago, would-be asylum-seekers at the Southern border have described being turned away or threatened with deportation or told by officials that there is no such thing as asylum.

Q:Has the Trump administration changed the asylum process? Asylum seekers must have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular "social group", a broad category that has included domestic violence victims and others.

Under U.S. law, migrants who cross the border and are detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can make "affirmative" asylum requests.

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