After being denied entry to the U.S. for more than 24 hours, eight migrants from the caravan that made its way through Mexico in recent weeks were granted permission to cross the border late Monday to claim asylum.
The rest of the approximately 150 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador continue waiting at the border to claim asylum in the U.S., said Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the group that organized the caravan. But the entry of even a few members of the group into the U.S. is a triumph nonetheless, according to a Facebook post.
The caravan group has been camping out since Sunday near the San Ysidro port of entry between San Diego and Tijuana. Customs and Border Protection officials blocked the migrants’ entry into the U.S., claiming they first needed to process those already waiting at the U.S. crossing facility, which is filled to capacity.
The caravan’s arrival at the border is the culmination of a weeks-long odyssey for a group that at one point consisted of about 1,200 people, including children, who travel together as protection from kidnappers, muggers and rapists who prey on the immigration route. They gathered almost one month ago in southern Mexico, moving northward. Some dropped off along the way, but hundreds made it to Tijuana on Wednesday, announcing they planned to enter San Diego over the weekend.
President Donald Trump first drew attention to the caravan several weeks ago, when he slammed the migrants as a national security threat and deployed the National Guard to protect the border. He reignited the conversation Monday in a tweet, assailing U.S. immigration law:
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned that anyone entering the U.S. illegally would be prosecuted. Claiming asylum out of fear of persecution in another country, however, is entirely legal. These caravans have been operating for a decade without much attention to help those escaping violence find safe haven in the U.S. or Mexico.
Still, the Department of Justice on Monday filed criminal charges against 11 suspected members of the caravan, alleging they illegally entered the U.S.
Meanwhile, the other migrants continue waiting, sleeping outdoors.
“On one hand, I’m very happy that it’s finally beginning, that perhaps they will start to accept us little by little,” Orfa Marín, a Honduran immigrant who has been traveling with her three children and her partner, told The New York Times on Monday. “But on the other hand, we have to wait here until it’s our turn. It could be days.”