After nearly a month of marching through Central America, the organized caravan of immigrants led by Pueblos Sin Fronteras have finally arrived at the southern U.S.-Mexico border and are now waiting to see if they will be granted asylum.
The caravan, which has been enraging Donald Trump since its emergence, is made-up of mostly women and children fleeing death threats, extortion, and gang-related violence in Central America. While some have been permitted to cross and seek asylum, about 115 people are still camping out at the border waiting for screening.
Border agents claim they have no room to accommodate all of those seeking asylum, yet the San Ysidro border crossing facilities near San Diego can technically hold around 300 people and this exact border entrance handled roughly 50 cases a day between October and February (far more than they are taking on now). Pueblos Sin Fronteras deems this another attempt on the part of immigration officials to avoid processing asylum cases. Border Patrol is intentionally making these families wait.
The caravan has been flagged as a threat to American security by several members of the Trump Administration, and yet has shown up to the border peacefully and patiently while waiting to be seen by authorities – to the point of camping out indefinitely in makeshift tents or sleeping on the ground. By this point a tent city has sprouted up, swarmed by journalists and law-enforcement officials at all times.
While conditions are far from comfortable, the asylum-seekers have no intention of giving up. Huddling in tents and braving cold nights are likely the last things on the list of adversities they’ve faced in recent weeks.
The scene is above all else a testament to the resilience of these families, who despite having to carry terrifying uncertainty, are playing games with their children, dining together, and delegating protective tasks. This upholding of community is not exclusive to their border camp. Upon being interviewed in Tijuana, it became very clear that the asylum seekers had been taking care of one another throughout the journey. Adults switched shifts cleaning, caretaking, and begging for food to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.
The reality of the caravan’s approach to U.S. entry stands in stark contrast to Trump’s rhetoric, which accuses the migrant group of illegal criminal activity. It’s imperative that media outlets expose the situation for exactly what it is: a last resort by families seeking to escape violence and poverty. Many of the women camped out in Tijuana have given detailed accounts of threats they received from gang members in their home countries, many of which involve harm to their children.
Sadly, it’s likely that the vast majority of caravan members will not be allowed to enter the U.S. and thus will have to stay behind in Mexico. Caravan members were not welcomed by the Mexican government, with several agents persuading them to hang back and discontinue their journeys. Those denied U.S. entry may not find home in Mexico, making options bleak. So while their fight perseveres, the journey is far from over.
Image credit: BipHoo Company
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