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California

More asylum-seeking migrants admitted into U.S. port of entry; 11 from caravan arrested

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Members of the Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan are offered tacos in Tijuana on the occasion of Children’s Day
(Alejandro Tamayo/San Diego Union=Tribune)

A total of 28 Central Americans traveling with the Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan have passed into the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official said.

Monday night, eight caravan members were the first to be admitted into the San Ysidro Port of Entry since their arrival Sunday afternoon, according to leaders of the Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan that brought them to the Tijuana-San Ysidro border crossing.

Word of their passage came as customs officials announced that they were again accepting asylum seekers and others without documents after a hiatus of close to 27 hours.

Just as members of the caravan had prepared to present themselves at the border to ask for asylum Sunday afternoon, customs officials announced that their facilities were full and that they did not have the capacity to accept them.

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On Monday morning, some 20 members of the caravan, most of them women with small children, spread out on blankets at the door to the port’s PedWest entrance, watching as northbound pedestrian crossers filed past at a rapid clip, heading to jobs, school and shopping excursions.

“I feel that God will help me cross, and will touch the president’s heart,” said José Cristobal Amaya, 16, among the small group waiting at the PedWest door.

The Honduran teenager, who was traveling alone, said he was fleeing gang members he calls Los Mareros who beat his father and threatened to kill his entire family.

The eight caravan members to go through were from this group, with mothers and children the first to be selected, according to a spokesman for Pueblo Sin Fronteras: three mothers, four children, and an 18-year-old were in the initial group.

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The spokesman said that they will initially remain detained at the port of entry. Those who express fear of returning to their home country would be sent on for a “credible fear” interview, an initial screening that launches the asylum process.

Meanwhile, a larger group of caravan members continued waiting, spread farther from the PedWest entrance in an open area outside El Chaparral, Mexico’s federal port that connects to San Ysidro.

Attorneys who have been assisting them have said that up to 200 participants had been preparing to apply for asylum.

Six more Central Americans traveling with the Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan passed into the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Tuesday morning, bringing to 14 the number of caravan members in U.S. custody since Sunday afternoon, caravan leaders said.

President Trump has made it clear that he does not look kindly on the caravan. He has tweeted that he instructed the secretary of Homeland Security “to not let these large caravans of people into our country.”

On Monday night the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had filed charges against 11 suspected caravan members, accusing them of entering the country illegally.

The suspects were arrested by members of the Border Patrol in areas west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Dibble writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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