A group of Central American asylum seekers spent Monday languishing on the ground outside a border crossing after U.S. officials said they did not have space to process them. On one side of the standoff are 220 migrants, who cite their right to seek shelter from persecution back home and have traveled through Mexico in a caravan to highlight the suffering of asylum seekers. On the other side is the Trump administration, which is trying to crack down on illegal immigration and says many asylum claims are fraudulent.
Trump tweeted last week that he had ordered the secretary of homeland security “not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country,” adding, “It is a disgrace.” But under international treaties it has signed, the U.S. government is obliged to allow foreigners to apply for asylum.
The San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego has detention space for about 300 people. U.S. officials have not said how many people are being held there. Asylum seekers are typically detained until officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conduct interviews to determine whether they have a credible fear of persecution or torture if they are sent home. Many of the migrants say they face threats to their lives in their native lands.
Suany Rodriguez, 6, who had been running to the bathroom all day with a bad case of diarrhea, grabbed a Barbie before sitting down in the street in front of a pharmacy. Her mother, Irma Rivera, 31, said that the girl had woken up sick after a bitterly cold night at the border. The family had left Honduras after Rivera’s husband was killed in a cornfield…She said she received anonymous phone calls stating that … other members of her family would be slain. That’s why she’s seeking asylum.
“We’re asking for them [U.S. authorities] to be fair. You don’t leave your country because you want to. The violence makes you leave,” Rivera said. “My life is at risk and so are the lives of my children.”