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Migrants from Central America gather at San Ysidro border

Hundreds of migrants from across Central America gathered on Sunday, April 29 at the San Ysidro border crossing between Mexico and the United States. Over the past month, countless families have made their way by bus, car and train to Tijuana to attempt a mass crossing into the United States to seek asylum.

Many believe that members of the caravan are trying to cross the border into the United States illegally, but the group is actually trying to work with immigration laws. Any person can legally arrive in the United States through a port of entry and ask for asylum. While asylum may not be granted, the government is legally obligated to consider the claim. 

Central American migrants in San Diego. Midland Daily News.

While similar caravans have been planned in the past, rising tensions regarding President Trump has pushed this event into the spotlight. On Monday, April 23 the president tweeted: “Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also opposed the move, stating that the caravan was a “deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.”

While the journey to the border was no doubt grueling, many families who passed into the United States still have a long road ahead of them. In the asylum process, families can be separated across different detention centers. Once asylum seekers reach the United States, they must be screened in what is known as a “credible fear interview,” where they must prove that they were persecuted in their home country because of factors such as race, religion, gender and political beliefs among others. If the applicant passes the interview, they are given a court date to make their case to a judge. In recent years, almost ¾ of requests for asylum by Central American migrants were denied.

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