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Friday, April 27, 2018

New caravan of migrants approaches the US

Por Damian

The migratory phenomenon continues in America! A caravan of some 175 Central American migrants rested last Thursday before beginning the last leg of their one month journey to claim asylum in the United States, even though the government of President Donald Trump warned that they could be prosecuted, detained and deported.

Migrants, many of them women, children and transsexuals, are expected to board buses in the border city of Mexicali for a two hour trip to Tijuana, where they will meet with 175 other migrants.

Some lawyers planned to hold free workshops on the US immigration system on Friday and Saturday, because many of the Central Americans plan to apply for asylum from Sunday at the San Ysidro border crossing in the city of San Diego, the busiest in the country.

The migrant shelters in the Zona Norte neighborhood of Tijuana, where many brothels and sordid bars are located, were full. That forced the caravan organizers to look for other places to get temporary accommodation, said Leonard Olsen of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, an activist group that heads the caravan.

The migrants who spent the night in a shelter in Mexicali were tired from the long journey and nervous about the possibility of being arrested in the United States, but also informed about their rights to request protection from persecution in their countries of origin, Olsen said. Many Central Americans who claim to request asylum expressed that they face death threats from criminal gangs in their homeland.

"It's a life changing moment", Olsen said in Mexicali as he waited for the arrival of three buses, while some federal policemen supervised from a nearby area.

Caravans have been a common tactic of activist groups to attract asylum seekers and the latest group is much smaller than other waves of migrants who have reached the border, but it made headlines after the President Donald Trump unleashed his fury on the movement that began with his trip on March 25 in the city of Tapachula, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, near the border with Guatemala.

The caravan collected 1,000 people as it passed through Mexico, while Trump and his top collaborators described it as a significant threat and described it as evidence of a dysfunctional border.

The president said on Tuesday that the caravan is a justification for the border wall he wants to build, although asylum seekers plan to surrender to border inspectors and are legally authorized to seek protection. Trump 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 that puts an end to this problem once and for all", he wrote.