U.S. warns of arrests as migrant caravan reaches border

By Susan McFarland  |  April 26, 2018 at 9:57 AM
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April 26 (UPI) -- About 130 immigrants from Central America have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border and are expected to seek asylum in the United States.

The immigrants, who arrived Wednesday evening in the border city of Tijuana, are staying at two immigrant shelters. About 200 others are expected to join them in coming days.

The effort was organized by Pueblos Sin Fronteras, translated from Spanish as People Without Borders, which is not the same group as the Washington-based non-profit that provides computer classes to international residents of the District of Columbia.

The Trump administration said the caravan should be stopped in Mexico. A statement by Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, said U.S. officials are monitoring the situation and will enforce the law.

"Let me be clear: We will enforce the immigration laws as set forth by Congress. If you enter our country illegally, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution," Nielsen said. "If you make a false immigration claim, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution. If you assist or coach an individual in making a false immigration claim, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution."

Human rights group Amnesty International said the U.S. and Mexican authorities must "stop demonizing participants of the caravan from Central America and respect their fundamental right to seek asylum."

Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International, said seeking asylum is not a crime in the United States or elsewhere.

"Threatening to indefinitely detain, prosecute and deport these asylum seekers is a cruel effort to stigmatize, terrify and push away traumatized people, many of whom have already given up everything to flee desperate circumstances in their home countries," Rosas said.

The immigrants' arrival comes one day after a federal judge ruled the government must resume accepting applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the decision giving the Department of Homeland Security 90 days to provide a legal reason for the Obama-era program, which protects hundreds of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, to be rescinded.

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