A mother dresses her son at the Alfa & Omega migrant shelter in Mexicali, Mexico, on Thursday, April 26, 2018, while traveling north with a caravan of Central American migrants. Caravans have been a fairly common tactic for years among advocacy groups to call attention to Central American citizens seeking asylum in the US. UU To escape political persecution or criminal threats from gangs. (Hans-Máximo Musielik / Associated Press)
MEXICALI, Mexico – Around 170 people in a caravan of Central Americans traveled on tour buses on Thursday for the final stage of their one-month trip to seek asylum in the United States, despite warnings from the Trump administration that could be prosecuted, detained and deported quickly.
Men, women and children traveled under the escort of the Mexican federal police on a winding, mountainous road from the Mexican border city of Mexicali to Tijuana to meet with around 175 others already there.
Lawyers planned free workshops on the US immigration system. UU Fridays and Saturdays in Tijuana. Many planned to seek asylum from Sunday in San Diego, the border crossing of San Ysidro, the busiest in the country.
The migrant shelters in the Zona Norte neighborhood of Tijuana, home to many of the city's bars and brothels, were full. That forced the organizers to seek temporary housing elsewhere, said Leonard Olsen of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, a group that leads the effort.
The migrants who stayed overnight in a shelter in Mexicali were tired from the long trip and were nervous about the possibility of being arrested in the United States, but also aware of their rights to seek protection against the persecution in their countries of origin, said Olsen. Many Central American asylum seekers say they face death threats from criminal gangs in their countries of origin.
"This is a moment that will change their lives," Olsen said in Mexicali, as he waited for the buses to arrive a few hours late. .
Caravans have been a fairly common tactic for defense groups to draw attention to asylum seekers and the last group size compared to previous border waves, but it gained great visibility after President Donald Trump It unleashed strong criticism from the moment it began on March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala.
The caravan attracted some 1,000 people as it crossed Mexico when Trump and his top aides portrayed them as a significant threat and evidence of a dysfunctional border.  Trump cited the caravan as a justification for the border fence he wants to build on Thursday, although asylum seekers plan to surrender to border inspectors and have the legal right to seek protection. He said he ordered the Department of Homeland Security to "stop the caravan," but that more needs to be done.
"We need a strong and impenetrable wall to end this problem once and for all," he wrote to supporters of the campaign.
National Security Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday night that anyone attempting to cross into the United States and make false statements to immigration authorities will be subject to criminal prosecution. She said that prosecution was also possible for anyone who could help or train immigrants to make false claims in tenders to enter the US. UU
The Nielsen threat is consistent with the narrative of the generalized asylum fraud administration and states that asylum seekers are trained in what to tell the authorities of the United States. The secretary also said that asylum seekers in the caravan should seek protection in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico.
The US government UU He is gathering resources to ensure that cases are decided quickly, Nielsen said. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he could assign additional immigration judges to handle cases involving members of the caravan.
As Sunday's clash approached at the busy Tijuana-San Diego border crossing, Amnesty International hoisted a billboard to promote the right of asylum. the United States in a truck in Tijuana that circulated around the city.
Four locations were being established in Tijuana for lawyers to tell migrants what to expect when they were released into US custody for questioning by immigration agents.  It is not clear how many people will apply for asylum eventually. José María García Lara, president of the Juventud 2000 shelter in Tijuana, said that around 35 percent of the more than 100 people in a Central American caravan decided to stay in Tijuana last November.
The Juventud 2000 shelter, on the edge of the red Tijuana The Guatemalan district Ignacio Villatoro, 41, said that Trump's rhetoric about the caravan saddened him because he felt that this could reduce the chances of obtaining asylum by the caravan. himself, his wife and four children. He still plans to try Sunday.
"God is just and powerful," he said, stopping outside his tent. "A miracle will touch the hearts of immigration agents and the president"
The Villatoros fled from a town near the Mexican border for reasons that Ignacio refused to discuss because he said he feared for the safety of his family .
They hope to join family members in Los Angeles, where he said his children could learn English, go to school, play in parks and buy toys, luxuries that are beyond their reach in Guatemala.
Spagat reported from Tijuana, Mexico.
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