Border officials on Monday let a handful of people traveling in a “caravan” of migrants into the U.S. to petition for asylum, according to multiple reports.
U.S. officials processed at least eight asylum seekers after they passed through the San Ysidro port of entry across from Tijuana, Mexico, activists told the Associated Press. Another 140 migrants remained on the Mexican side of the border waiting for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to let them through.
The much publicized caravan of mostly Central American migrants has been making its way north through Mexico over the past month with the aim of reaching the U.S. border to apply for asylum. At times numbering as many as 1,500 migrants, the caravan arrived in April in Tijuana, where about 300 potential asylum-seekers have camped out in a plaza near the port of entry.
President Donald Trump and other senior administration officials have denounced the caravan as a deliberate ploy to take advantage of the U.S. immigration system. Caravan organizers, including Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the migrants are fleeing extreme violence in their home countries and must be allowed to petition for asylum in the U.S.
Border agents recently caught several migrants associated with the caravan as they scaled a border fence and attempted to cross into the U.S. At least 11 people from the caravan have been charged with illegally crossing the border, a federal misdemeanor, the Justice Department said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It remains unclear how long Mexican authorities will allow the hundreds of migrants to remain encamped in Tijuana. The asylum-seekers intend to stay where they are until “every last one is admitted into the United States,” caravan organizers said Monday.
CBP can house about 300 asylum seekers at its San Ysidro holding facility, which was already at capacity when the caravan migrants arrived. Processing new asylum claimants will be slowed until the backlog is cleared, border officials said.
“As in the past when we’ve had to limit the number of people we can bring in for processing at a given time, we expect that this will be a temporary situation,” CBP published in a statement, according to the AP.
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