TIJUANA, Mexico – The US president, a former real estate magnate, does not want Byron Garcia in the United States. But the Honduran teenager was too busy building his own hotel empire this week to be very concerned about that.
Vermont Avenue and Connecticut Avenue were his. Now I was looking to move in luxury.
The mini-Monopoly board on the dusty floor of the migrant shelter was small but fitted well into the small space next to the tents. His older sister, Carolina, took a 2 and landed on Oriental Avenue.
"That will be $ 500," said Garcia, 15, happily extending his hand. "I love this game!"
Garcia comes to the United States on Sunday. Or maybe not. His mother, Orfa Marin, 33, is not sure it's a good day to walk to the United States border crossing and tell a US official. UU That your family needs asylum. She knows that President Trump wants to stop them.
Marin and his three children are among the roughly 300 remaining members of the immigrant caravan who have come here at the end of a month-long political and geographical odyssey, a journey that has aroused the ire of Trump's Twitter and it opened new cracks in the relations between the United States and Mexico.
Central American migrant children play Monopoly at the Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter on April 26, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post)
Caravan organizers say they plan to hold a rally Sunday at the Friendship Circle, the international park where a 15-foot fence divides the beach. From there, activists and lawyers plan to take a group of immigrants to the port of entry in San Ysidro, California, where they will go to US Customs and Border Protection agents. UU And they will formally request asylum.
Tired and anxious after more than a month on the road, they bring blistering stories of murdered family members and gang threats in Central America. It will be up to US courts – if admitted to the United States – to decide whether they deserve protection or deportation.
The organizers say they expect about 100 people to try to cross on Sunday, but recognize that many may have "cold feet" after so much accumulation. Regardless of the final number, it will be something considerably more modest than the procession of 1,500 people that appeared on Fox News in late March and caught the president's attention. Their successive tweets described them as a creepy threat that moves to assault a lawless US border.
Trump ordered US soldiers to deploy and National Security officials to block migrants. But the diminished version of the caravan that arrived here, mostly women and children, has only emphasized its meekness.
Families are drained after weeks of travel, coughing up children and pinto beans. They huddled here in shelters in the sordid north end of the city, where sidewalks were stained with dog droppings and carelessly dressed women handed out drink promotions between strip clubs and brothels. The high fence of the US border is two blocks away.
Migrant families arrive at a bus at the Salvation Army shelter on April 26, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico, after driving from Mexicali, Mexico. (Carolyn Van Houten / The Washington Post)
Children play on sidewalks outside shelters, boredom breaks every time a car arrives with donations to leave clothes and toys.
Central American migrants in Mexico have long been treated as a type of renewable natural resource, ready to be exploited by thieves, predators and politicians. The geopolitical importance attributed to this particular group was a signal to many here that the US president had also recognized an opportunity. "We are not terrorists or bad people," Marin said.
Regardless of their size, Trump officials have measured this caravan in symbolic terms, as an atrocious example of the "gap" they want to close and an immigration system that is said to be abused by hundreds of thousands of Central Americans. generosity trying to deceive her.
U.S. the law generally allows foreign citizens who come to US territory to apply for asylum, and prohibits the government from holding minors in prolonged detention. Adults who travel with children who arrive at the border and apply for asylum often spend a few days in federal custody before being released and are assigned a court date, often many months or years.
The vast majority of asylum applications in Central America are not approved, but the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, issued new warnings this week threatening members of the caravan with criminal prosecution if they present a lawsuit.
The increase in threats has fueled speculation that Customs and Border Protection officials in the United States could prevent caravan members from approaching the port to apply for asylum, or that Mexican authorities could intervene the Mexican authorities. at the last minute to force them to return.
In an interview, Pete Flores, the highest official in the CBP field in San Diego The asylum procedures at the US border crossings have not changed, and the "status quo" remained in effect.
"If someone arrives, we will take their claim and process it," Flores said. "We will take them according to our capacity to allow them to enter the port of entry." San Ysidro detention cells can hold about 300 people. He said
The possibility that the Mexican authorities blocked caravan members from reaching the remote border as well. The state governor sent three tour buses to bring them from Mexicali. Police and military patrols circulated in circles around the shelters every few minutes and kept a close eye on vagrants and street-bound addicts, some deported long ago who never returned to their lives in the United States.
"I'm not afraid, but I know President Trump does not want to let us in," said Yorleny Cantarero, 27. "And besides, I can not go home."
The organizers have told him that the asylum is "Guaranteed by the United Nations". , "she said.
Cantarero said her abusive husband threatened to kill her and the police did not enforce the restraining order against her.He left his 9-year-old son with his father in Honduras and fled with his daughters, 7 and 2. He lived with the girls in a room rented in southern Mexico and earned $ 6 a day at a fruit stand when he heard about the caravan, considering it to be the only sure way for a young mother without money have the opportunity to obtain asylum.
"These people have no choice but to seek refuge in another country and have the right to seek asylum, have decided to face the consequences and be strong by demanding what is their right," he said. Leonard Olsen, 26, a law student and one of the organizers of caravans in the United States, wore a tattered hat from the Philadelphia Eagles and arrived in Tijuana on Thursday leading a busload of women and children.
l The 300 who arrived at the end of the line are many who say they do not plan to cross, including men whose previous deportations make it extremely difficult to file an asylum application. A painful separation awaits other families who fear that the men who are with them will be imprisoned and deported if they cross as a family.
Jeannette Gonzalez, 28, was traveling with her daughters, 4 and 10 months old, and the father of the girls, for whom she is not married. He will go first with the 4-year-old girl, while she remains in Tijuana with the baby until both are released from the US detention. UU Then the family will try to meet.
The father of the girls, a forklift operator, will be killed if he is deported to El Salvador, Gonzalez said, because he has refused to work for the gang as a driver.
Nielsen and other Trump officials have urged migrants to stay in Mexico, where many have qualified for asylum protection. But Gonzalez said he has no family there, but an aunt who lives in Texas is ready to take them. If they can enter the United States.
"Obama was the son of an immigrant, he understood," Gonzalez said. "But Trump does not want us there, and we're scared."