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At the U.S. border, migrant caravan will slow to a scan

Joshua Partlow Correspondent focusing on Mexico, Central America and other parts of Latin America November 16 at 18:07 When the…

When the central American caravan finally crosses us on the US ground – past the fresh coils of barbed wire, through the chain door – they will launch a closely monitored existence in the United States custody, with showers every other day and watch checks every 15 minutes.

They will live in San Ysidro Harbor in one of 31 storage rooms with painted stone block walls, the largest that seats 25 people, sleeps under Mylar blankets on rubber mats, watched by video surveillance. They will have two hot meals a day, a cold lunch and possibly cereal before the bed.

What the experience will not be for the thousands of immigrants now gathering in Tijuana is fast.

We have a process in place, says Sidney Aki, San Ysidro deputy director of US Customs and Border Protection. “Please be patient”.

After more than a month and about 3000 miles the caravan has reached the end of its road. What had become a plodding hit South Mexico faster accelerated over the past week, so many immigrants traveled in buses, provided by local authorities, along the way from Mexico City north to the border. More than 2000 people have arrived in Tijuana this week, with another 7,000 not far behind, according to Mexican authorities. It does not include the approximately 3,000 immigrants already in Tijuana and seeking legal access to the United States.

Too many in the caravan, the next step is to seek asylum at the border crossing San Ysidro and what it means to wait.


An American customs and border guard member is guarded on the US side of the US-Mexico border, which is seen Friday from Tijuana, Mexico. (Pedro Pardo / AFP / Getty Images)

One day in May 2016, the US border authorities granted more than 1 000 Haitian asylum seekers in the port of entry. In order to handle the influx, they converted personal offices to hold cells; employee showers became migrant showers. Overtime pay increased; they were short on food and necessities.

“The operation was overwhelmed,” said Mariza Marin, a CBP watch commander.

The lesson for Aki and his subordinates: Never exceeds capacity. They say they can process 90 to 100 migrants per day and have a total possession of about 300 people. Francisco Gomez, a senior civil servant in Baja California, the Mexican state, including Tijuana, estimated that the caravan would be there for four months or more.

At this newly renovated accommodation port – the busiest on the border, Aki said, with about 100,000 legal travelers crossing the United States every day – asylum seekers will remain in prison for up to 72 hours before being transferred by officials at immigrants and customs authorities to other facilities for children, adults or families. Waiting for ICE is a big bottleneck, says Aki.

“We take the sign for everything,” said Aki. But until ICE moves migrants out “we can not do anything.”

ICE did not respond immediately to a request for comments.

In the port of entry, migrants will get fingerprints and be checked for criminal records or expulsion history. They will be searched for weapons and checked for diseases such as head lice, chickenpox and scabies.

CBP officials take a preliminary statement from immigrants; Later, asylum officers will intervene to see if they have a “credible fear” to return to their homelands. If so, they will enter an immigration court process where a judge will ultimately decide. Most asylum seekers do not get it.

Those who do not apply for asylum are likely to be expelled.

“If you do not say fear, we’ll take you away quickly,” said Aki. .

The cart also includes single men who say they will try the transboundary border and others who plan to stay in Mexico.

“It’s impossible to get asylum, I do not, but I want to do things legally,” says Sarah Ilatina, 28, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “I hope Trump opens his heart for us.”

When she arrived at Tijuana on Thursday morning with a plastic bag of toilet paper and water, it had been 24 hours since her last meal, she said. She joined the caravan last month because she could not find work in Honduras despite her graduation degree. She has a family in Miami and wants to join them.

“I will not hurt anyone or take anything from anyone,” she said. “I do not want to throw me over the walls.”

President Trump has resembled the caravan to an “invasion” and urged the US military to consolidate the border. US Navy has barred wire rope between traffic lanes in the port of access if migrants try to shoot by guards. On Wednesday, as some immigrants gathered on the beach in an exclusive part of the city, a group shouted to them to go elsewhere and threatened violence. The police formed a barricade to separate the sides after a blow had broken. While the US authorities say they are prepared for something, they expect a slow and orderly process. And so do immigrants.

“To put the troops on the verge of doing something?” Sa Alejandro Gomez, 39, a migrant from Choloma, Honduras. “We are not. It’s all a circus.”

For me, immigrants are at the bottom of a sports facility in Tijuana and spread among other shelters.

Derien Antonio Carbajal Alvarado, 21, set up a tent and set up cots for his pregnant girlfriend and her three daughters, 5, 6 and 7 years old. He said he had been shot in the arms of gang members and went to the police after receiving more threatening texts and Facebook messages. These messages and the police report are the evidence that he hopes will float an immigration judge, but he certainly does not know how everything works.

“I do not know what Trump says: We’ve gone, and I’m not a well-informed guy,” he said. “I’m just a taxi driver from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and I want a better life for my daughter who’s on my way and my stepdaughters.”

He has a family in Dallas and hopes it will be there. He is ready to drive a taxi.

“Or anything,” he said.

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