Migrant Caravan, After Grueling Trip, Reaches US Border. Now the Really Hard Part.

To qualify for asylum, applicants must prove they have been persecuted or fear persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership in a particular group.

People who request protection at a United States entry point must be referred to an asylum officer for a screening, known as a credible-fear interview. If the officer finds that an applicant has a chance of proving fear of persecution, the person must then present his or her case before a judge. More than three quarters of applicants pass that initial review.

“We’re only sending people who we think will pass the credible-fear interview,” said Nicole Ramos, a volunteer immigration lawyer helping the caravan.

But Customs and Border Protection, whose officers are stationed at ports of entry, announced late Sunday that it had exhausted its capacity to handle people traveling without documents.

Still, caravan organizers escorted some 50 participants along the long, elevated pedestrian walkway at El Chaparral that leads from Tijuana to the entrance to the United States in San Diego. At the gate leading into the American immigration checkpoint, American border authorities reaffirmed that they would not be able to process any more asylum-seekers on Sunday.

Alex Mensing, project coordinator for Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a transnational group that organized the caravan, told reporters gathered at El Chaparral that the migrants would remain at the gate, overnight if necessary, until border officials once again had the capacity to process them.

“We wish that the United States government were capable of accepting more than a few hundred asylum seekers at any given time, since we can certainly pick up more than a 1,000 people in an ICE raid on any given day,” he said, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Homeland Security Department.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/29/world/americas/mexico-caravan-trump.html

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