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Caravan of Central American Asylum Seekers Greeted by Supporters at Border

Immigrant rights advocates gathered on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence as hundreds of people prepared to apply for asylum

asylum seekers

People hold a Honduran flag and look into the United States from atop a section of border fence as members of a caravan of Central American asylum seekers arrive to a rally on April 29, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

A caravan of hundreds of Central American asylum seekers arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday. The migrants prepared to turn themselves over to U.S. officials, in a direct challenge to the Trump administration, which has vowed to bar them from entering, even though doing so could violate international law.

The migrants—who arrived in Tijuana, Mexico earlier this week—rallied on the Mexico side of the border ahead of applying for asylum. They were greeted by supporters who demonstrated on the American side of the border fence that runs through Friendship Park, a binational park that is located near San Diego, California.

Despite support from immigrant rights advcoates in the United States, the asylum seekers are not expected to be warmly welcomed by President Donald Trump or his Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The president, known for characterizing migrants as criminals, "has singled out this particular caravan as the latest reason to build a border wall," even as "refugee advocates have stressed that the caravan includes men, woman, and children who are seeking asylum after fleeing violence in their home countries," as Common Dreams reported earlier this week.

DHS said in a statement on Saturday afternoon that some migrants "associated with" the caravan—including young children and a pregnant woman—had already illegally crossed the border near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

The news followed reports on Friday that DHS is considering a new prosecution policy that would involve treating parents who attempt to cross the border with their children as dangerous human traffickers, which critics warn will tear apart thousands of families.

"No information was given on the number of people caught entering the U.S. illegally or what became of them," the Los Angeles Times noted. "It also was not clear if the statement's phrase 'people associated with' the caravan meant people who actually had taken part in the bus trek from Central America, through Mexico, to seek political asylum in the U.S."

Members of the caravan who are planning to request asylum, the Times reported, "spent Friday and Saturday at legal orientations to understand their rights and what to expect when they enter the U.S. port of entry."

"Asylum-seekers are typically held for up to three days at the border and then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," according to The Associated Press. "If they pass an asylum officer’s initial screening, they may be detained or released into the U.S. with ankle monitors."

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