The federal government has filed charges of illegal entry against a group of 11 Central American immigrants suspected to have come to the United States to seek asylum, a few of whom are mothers and children allowed to proceed with their asylum applications.
The group of undocumented immigrants now face criminal charges filed by the Justice Department for allegedly participating in a caravan that coursed through Mexico by both train and on foot—a journey that took a month to complete. The defendants claim to have left their home countries to escape violence.
The arrests were made in separate locations, all within miles of the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, a place where hundreds of Central Americans wait to be processed by immigration agents. According to the complaints, the defendants were arrested in an area known to locals as the “Goat Canyon.”
While the Justice Department notes that some of the suspects came from countries in Central America where many caravan members come from, such as Guatemala and Honduras, the complaints do not mention the actual caravan. Likewise, none of the defendants has confessed to having traveled with the caravan, with only one suspect having been previously deported.
Growing Asylum Backlog
The charges came shortly after immigration officials reopened the San Ysidro Port of Entry and allowed some members of the caravan to carry on with the asylum process. But Kevin McAleenan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, announced that the port of entry could no longer accept new asylum seekers as too many cases were still in processing.
Caravan organizer Pueblo Sin Fronteras, however, claims that eight members of the caravan were admitted into the port of entry a day after the announcement was made. Among those who were let in were three mothers, four children, and another adult. More reports from the border show that another group of asylum seekers was also allowed entry.
While Customs and Border Protection has yet to announce the number of immigrants allowed to seek asylum, immigrant rights advocates have requested to allow immigrants fleeing danger in their home countries to cross the border.
Sessions Defend Arrest
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the arrests in a statement, saying that “the United States will not stand by as our immigration laws are ignored and our nation’s safety is jeopardized.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will not comment on the arrests of the alleged caravan members, said spokeswoman Gabriela Melendez. Members of the ACLU will, however, be in the Southern District of California to argue against Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) practice of forcibly separating families seeking asylum.
If you, or a loved one, need assistance with your asylum application, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215-5225to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.