Caravan of migrants stuck at U.S. border, drawing nation's attention

Source: Xinhua| 2018-05-01 20:22:51|Editor: Yurou
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An American policeman guards near the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in San Diego, the United States, April 30, 2018. Hundreds of Central American migrants arrived in Mexican border city Tijuana making a mass request for US asylum.(Xinhua/Huang Heng)

LOS ANGELES, April 30 (Xinhua) -- "Migrant caravan," a group of migrants from Central America who traveled by caravan through Mexico to the U.S. border, has drawn attention across the United States.

Eight migrants were allowed late Monday to step into the territory of the United States to request for asylum. They were taken in at about 7:30 p.m. local time (0330 GMT Tuesday) after waiting for more than a day outside the facility, according to media reports.

Earlier, hundreds of migrants alongside their supporters marched from Tijuana, Mexico to the San Ysidro port of entry. Over the weekend, the caravan members set up camp on the Mexico side of the fence, just miles south of San Diego, California.

The caravan has drawn the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump, who said on Twitter that the vehicles threatened the security and sovereignty of the United States.

"The migrant 'caravan' that is openly defying our border shows how weak & ineffective U.S. immigration laws are," Trump tweeted on Monday.

Supporters from the United States, including scores of volunteer lawyers and paralegals, also joined recently to provide free consultation to the caravan migrants.

"He (Trump) has very different opinions of Mexicans and illegal immigrants than I do," Aaron Kurcz, a professional baseball player, told Xinhua on Monday.

"Our country doesn't want these people to be here," said Kurcz, who has dual citizenship. "I am in the middle ... I want to welcome them but at the same time I understand that we need to protect our border too."

"I know they had a long journey," said Kurcz, who came to the border to give water and snacks to the caravan.

Generally, when asylum seekers come to the U.S. border, they begin a process that can take months, or even years, to complete. Many spend the majority of the waiting time in detention facilities run by private prison companies contracted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Los Angeles Times.

They are interviewed and screened by multiple federal agencies, and at the end, they have to prove to judges that their stories fulfill the requirements under the asylum law to be granted protection.

"At this time, we have reached capacity at the San Ysidro port of entry for CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers to be able to bring additional persons traveling without appropriate entry documentation into the port of entry for processing," U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement. "As sufficient space and resources become available, CBP officers will be able to take additional individuals into the port for processing."

The group who intended to seek asylum -- accompanied by other caravan participants, supporters and dozens of journalists refused to leave, causing a standoff.

"This caravan, like those who have gone before, is also rightly understood as a deliberate attempt to undermine the laws of this country and the sovereignty of the United States," U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in his remarks to Customs and Border Patrol employees when he visited the Calexico border wall on Monday.

"Thanks to the cooperation of the Mexican government, the caravan has been reduced from thousands to less than 150 that are at our border today," Pence said.

In a statement last week, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department has been "closely monitoring" the remnants of the caravan.