ICE Keeps Pregnant Women who Arrived by Immigrant ‘Caravan’ Locked Up Behind Bars in U.S. Detention Centers for Months… Maybe Longer

Courtesy of Briana Calleros
Briana Calleros

The caravan of migrants from Central America that Trump “warned” us about reached the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday, April 29.  After traveling by foot, bus and train for over a month, about 150 migrants arrived at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Sunday to seek asylum.

I traveled to Tijuana to assist the caravan organizers, Pueblo Sin Fronteras and Al Otro Lado. As of now, 25 of the migrants have been processed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Border patrol officials originally refused to process several migrants claiming that the San Ysidro Port of Entry was at capacity.

I volunteered because Trump got it so wrong when he vilified the caravan of people during his Twitter rant last month.

The caravan participants are seeking refuge in the United States from violence and persecution in Central America. Overwhelmingly, the migrants come from Honduras. This formal legal process is called asylum. Seeking asylum is a right protected by international and federal law. Countries that are part of the United Nations have been in agreement for decades about the rights afforded to asylum seekers. Trump clearly didn’t get the memo.

Also, someone please tell “ese señor” that this has nothing to do with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Immigrants have rights. There is nothing ‘illegal’ about making a legitimate request for asylum at the border.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras / Facebook

Prior to reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, the caravan, Viacrucis Migrantes en la Lucha 2018, called for their rights to be respected. They demanded the right to seek asylum, an end to the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and defunding of the murderous Honduran government. If the United States continues to refuse their request for asylum, the country could be violating its laws and international agreements.

A network of volunteers came to support by providing legal counsel and other resources.

Courtesy of Briana Calleros

The day before the caravan presented at the border, volunteers helped fill out paperwork and scanned documents for safekeeping while lawyers provided pro-bono counsel. The children found ways to entertain themselves as the adults sought resources about what lay ahead.

That night, organizers led the group in a blunt discussion about the political realities. Not all would be able to cross the border. Together, they strategized.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras / Facebook

They sought to avoid any kind of conflict or violence with Mexican police or U.S. Border Patrol agents. They simply wanted to make their claim to asylum without drama. Women and children would go first.

Organizers warned the caravan of the possibility that not everyone would be allowed through the port of entry. They recalled how Mary and Joseph had to knock on many doors before they found someone willing to take them in. The caravan might have to do the same.

The next day, activists held a press conference at the  Playas Tijuana border wall in a show of solidarity. A few hours later, the caravan began their march to the port of entry.

Mexican authorities attempting to limit number of asylum-seekers going in at the behest of US authorities

Posted by Pueblo Sin Fronteras on Sunday, April 29, 2018

A group of activists from California went to San Diego’s Friendship Park to welcome the caravan from the other side of the wall. They flew kites that read, “Refugees are Welcome Here,” and “Parques no Muros” (Parks not Walls).

Migrants from the caravan were escorted by Mexican police to the port of entry, where they were met by journalists. Families, especially children, began to cry as the reality of the situation settled in. If allowed to go through the asylum process, the men and women traveling together would be separated for months, or maybe longer, in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention: husbands separated from wives, brothers separated from sisters, fathers separated from children, and more.

Once they arrived at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, CBP claimed not to have any room.

Border agents only allowed the first 50 to pass through the gate. Thirty were forced to wait in an outdoor hallway, while 20 waited outside of the building’s door. In a show of solidarity, the other hundred asylum seekers voted to remain outside the facility’s gates. Volunteers brought them food and they spent the night on the concrete. They vow to stay until all of the caravan members have been able to claim asylum.

“CBP is the largest law enforcement agency in the country but is pretending that they don’t have the ‘capacity’ to accept 150 refugee parents and children whose arrival has been anticipated and communicated weeks in advance,” stated Alex Mensing of Pueblos Sin Fronteras in an email on Monday morning.

The caravan’s journey is far from over. They have yet to be granted the chance to claim asylum, and once they do, they could be detained for months.

It remains to be seen if and when the remaining asylum seekers will be allowed to make their claim. If allowed, they will undergo a credible fear interview to establish whether they have a legitimate fear of persecution. If found to have credible fear, they will be detained by immigration officials until they are released on parole or granted asylum, a process which could take months and maybe even years.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras is accepting donations. Additionally, they are calling for volunteers who are available to provide assistance at the border.

READ: Mass Migration Of Central Americans To The U.S. Dissolves, Others Will Continue To Forward

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