The Trump administrations fuzzy math on criminals in the caravan

The Trump administration\s fuzzy math on \criminals\ in the caravan

Central American migrants want buses to US-Mexico border

Thousands camp out in the city before continuing their journey to the U.S. border; William La Jeunesse reports from Mexico on the progress.

MEXICO CITY – With the number of migrants in Mexico increasing, their timetable to the U.S. accelerating, and the certainty of their arrival less in doubt, the question becomes: What does the endgame look like?

They will proceed toward the U.S. on the heels of President Trumps latest move to tighten the nations asylum rules, as he had declared he would do last week ahead of Tuesdays midterms. The administration announced on Thursday that it was moving forward with a regulation withholding asylum protection from immigrants who cross the border illegally first. 

Based on recent history, President Trump’s pledge to stop them and the capacity of shelters in Tijuana, the caravan’s future is daunting, if not bleak, and likely disappointing.

The interim final rule posted by the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security would bar immigrants who cross the “southern border unlawfully” from “eligibility for asylum.” Immigrants would have to apply for asylum status at designated points of entry, and those already in the country illegally would not be able to apply. 

“When I get to the border, I’m gonna ask them for asylum,” said Elvis Romero, a Guatemalan immigrant, his swollen feet wrapped in medical tape under a baking sun in Juchitan, Mexico. “I will ask President Trump to give me an opportunity to stay there because I want a better life for me.”

But most want to continue on toward the United States. Authorities say most have refused offers to stay in Mexico, and only a small number have agreed to return to their home countries. About 85 percent of the migrants are from Honduras, while others are from the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

While sources say the U.S. is working behind the scenes with the government of Mexico to reduce the caravan’s size, thousands are still likely to arrive at the U.S. border in a matter of weeks. There are about 7,000 people who are now part of the caravan, though the numbers keep fluctuating.

What happens then – when several thousand migrants arrive in Tijuana, a city with shelters already overcrowded with women and children? Do they live on the street, or does the city or state provide them shelter? For how long?

Mexico City is more than 600 miles from the nearest U.S. border crossing at McAllen, Texas, and a previous caravan in the spring opted for the longer route to Tijuana in the far northwest, across from San Diego. That caravan steadily dwindled to only about 200 people by the time it reached the border.

Given President Trump’s threat to slow walk or “meter” the number of asylum claims processed per day, where will asylum seekers congregate?

The migrant caravan has made international headlines for weeks – members have walked miles under the blazing sun and staggered in oppressive heat, and then shivered when they encountered colder climates in Mexico City. But it’s now within reach of the border – and people are paying attention to what happens next.

Addressing the assembly in the Mexico City sports complex, organizer Walter Cuello yelled: “Five in the morning Tijuana!” The migrants responded with enthusiastic applause and shouts. Their plan was to walk to the central Mexican city of Queretaro on Friday.

The existing waiting list at the San Ysidro Port of Entry south of San Diego is already at 2,500 and getting a chance to enter the U.S. can take as long as six weeks.

The U.N. human rights agency said its office in Mexico had filed a report with prosecutors in the central state of Puebla about two buses that migrants boarded in the last leg of the trip to Mexico City early this week, and whose whereabouts are not known.

Dozens show up each morning to surround a local official who keeps a log with hundreds of names. Each name has a number. Based on how many asylum claims the U.S. agrees to process that day determines how many names get called.

The announcement that the caravan would push northward on Friday, toward the official crossing at Tijuana, came shortly after caravan representatives met with officials from the local United Nations office and demanded buses to take them to the border.

If that slows from 60 or 70 a day to less than 10 or 20, the bottleneck creates a problem for everyone in Tijuana.

“At this point, the only sign of the administration preparing to process migrants who seek to legally apply for asylum is to unfurl barb wire at places they are unlikely to cross,’ says Ali Noorani, director of the left-leaning National Immigration Forum. “Without the necessary staffing and facilities in place, the administration will create chaos and hardship for Customs and Border Protection officers, migrants and surrounding communities.”

Jessica Vaughn of the right-leaning Center for Immigration Studies also sees a disaster in the making.

“The legal port of entry chosen by the caravan organizers almost certainly will be disrupted to the point it will either be shut down, either officially or in effect, because the organizers almost certainly will have lawyers ready and will not want to accept ‘take a number’ for an answer,” Vaughn said. “This will not go over well with ordinary Mexicans who depend on access to the legal crossing points. But the organizers will be more interested in the optics of defiance.”

During the last caravan in March, organizer Puebla Sin Frontera shuttled a few hundred tired migrants to Friendship Park outside Tijuana as an apparent public relations stunt, inviting activists from San Diego and Los Angeles to rally in front of the Border Patrol.

Will the open border rights group do it again to make a statement about U.S. policy, which they argue is inhumane, unfair and illegal?

In Mexico City, the migrants received medical attention and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, diapers and other basics. They searched through piles of clothes and grabbed boxes of milk for children.

Central American migrants rest at the Jesus Martinez stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Humanitarian aid converged around the stadium in Mexico City where thousands of Central American migrants winding their way toward the United States were resting Tuesday after an arduous trek that has taken them through three countries in three weeks. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

The decision was made late Thursday in a Mexico City stadium where roughly 5,000 migrants have spent the past few days resting, receiving medical attention and debating to how to proceed with their arduous trek.

Will there be a backlash in the U.S., providing President Trump with an opportunity to effectively close the border, doing the migrants more harm than good?

Assume half of the estimated 5,500 migrants in the caravan make it to Tijuana. Without housing or shelter, many risk crossing illegally, though many say that is not their intent.

There have already been reports of migrants on the caravan going missing, though that is often because they hitch rides on trucks that turn off on different routes, leaving them lost.

“I want to go over legally and do it with hard work and everything because you can’t get anything just sitting down,” said 14-year-old Jorge Gomez from Guatemala.

“God, please let the buses arrive, but if not we will walk,” said 18-year-old single mother Delia Murillo who left her girl in Honduras because she feared for her safety on the trek.

“We do want to apply for asylum,” he said, “and we want to leave because there’s too much violence in our country.”

Most of the migrants interviewed by Fox News said they want to enter legally, but experts say some will grow frustrated. Some will head east to a mountain crossing near Tecate, Mexico or further east to the Mohave and Sonora deserts near El Centro and Yuma.

President Trump is considering a policy change to deter that option by disallowing asylum claims from those who enter illegally or do not cross at an official Port of Entry.

The migrants hoped that buses would arrive for them Friday morning but decided to leave Mexico City even if they didnt.

“If the numbers hold, [the Department of Homeland Security] will be challenged logistically and with processing time,” said Mike Fisher, who headed the U.S. Border Patrol from 2010 to 2015.

“This is a humanitarian crisis and they are ignoring it,” Benitez said as the group arrived at the U.N. office.

Processing times imposed by the courts have border officials scrambling when migrants overwhelm a given sector. The maximum allowable time is 72 hours in a border patrol detention center – and 21 days in a government shelter for families and children. At that point, officials are supposed to release the migrants, usually with an ankle bracelet.

Thousands of people fleeing Honduras head north towards the U.S. border, drawing threats from President Trump

Those time limits can mean incomplete background checks, said Ron Coburn, a former deputy chief of the Border Patrol.

He fears many “aggravated felons are embedded in the clutter of the massive number of immigrants in order to cloak their identity.”

“The chaos at the border,” he said, “will undoubtedly contribute to certain very dangerous individuals being able to successfully sneak into the USA.”

Share MARIA VERZA and CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Nov 8th 2018 4:39PM MEXICO CITY (AP) — Central American migrants in a caravan that has stopped in Mexico City demanded buses Thursday to take them to the U.S. border, saying it is too cold and dangerous to continue walking and hitchhiking.

Mexico City authorities say that of the 4,841 registered migrants receiving shelter in a sports complex, 1,726 are under the age of 18, including 310 children under five.

“We need buses to continue travelling,” said Milton Benitez, a caravan coordinator. Benitez noted that It would be colder in northern Mexico and it wasnt safe for the migrants to continue along highways, where drug cartels frequently operate.

The Mexican government has said most of the migrants have refused offers to stay in Mexico, and only a small number have agreed to return to their home countries. About 85 percent of the migrants are from Honduras, while others are from the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

“California is the longest route but is the best border, while Texas is the closest but the worst” border, said Jose Luis Fuentes of the National Lawyers Guild to gathered migrants.

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