- Voice of San Diego - https://www.voiceofsandiego.org -

Central American Asylum-Seekers Face Long Odds

The migrant caravan that arrived in Tijuana last week — a group of hundreds of Central American migrants who have been traveling north toward the U.S.-Mexico border — was not the first group of its kind, nor is it likely to be the last. For the past few years, immigrant rights group Pueblo Sin Fronteras has encouraged migrants to travel together for safety and to draw attention to their journey. The current group of travelers drew significant media attention when, earlier this month, President Donald Trump said it should be stopped on its way through Mexico. At a political rally over the weekend, Trump threatened to “close down the country” [1] if the U.S. border doesn’t become tighter.

Thanks to the president, the caravan — which started with more than 1,000 people and ended with an estimated 200 to 300 [2] — has become a flash point for a larger immigration debate in the United States.

The people on the caravan who made it to Tijuana on Wednesday are now beginning the long, drawn-out process of seeking asylum — a process that is not favorable to immigrants from Central America who flee domestic and gang violence. Around 80 percent of asylum claims from Central American immigrants were denied [3] in 2016, whereas applicants, on average, have about a 50 percent chance [4] of receiving asylum.

On Sunday, the migrants were told that border officials at the San Ysidro Port of Entry didn’t have the capacity to process them. Many spent the night and continue to wait at the border to request asylum.

  • Two young couples, one from El Salvador and the other from Honduras, play around after they arrive at a migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico. They are part of a caravan of migrants from Central American who crossed through Mexico to the U.S. border, where they will present themselves to U.S. immigration officials and seek asylum. / Photo by David Maung