Nearly 300 migrants from Central America have been staying in shelters as they weigh the decision of whether or not to present themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on Sunday.
The big decision would be to request asylum in the United States, according to USA Today.
After a journey over 2,500 miles in a caravan, the migrants must pass a “credible-fear interview,” which is the first step to seeking asylum in the country.
Those individuals who can’t establish “credible” fear of either persecution or torture upon the return to their homeland will most likely be detained and deported.
However, before their interview on Sunday, some volunteers such as Leonard Olsen with Pueblo Sin Fronteras (the organizer of the migrant caravan) say that certain migrants may “get cold feet.”
Nearly 100 of the 300 migrants are women and children who made it to Tijuana by traveling on foot, by bus or taking freight trains.
The majority of this group of 100 has already decided to present themselves to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at San Ysidro, just south of San Diego, though others continue to remain undecided while they wait to meet with immigration lawyers for legal advice.
Among those waiting are the ones who have decided not to risk seeking asylum because they don’t have a strong case, leading them to attempt to obtain legal status in Mexico.
However, it seems none of the migrants have a desire to go back to the “rampant gang violence and political turmoil” they fled in Tapachula, Chiapas, which is just along the border of Mexico and Guatemala.
During the early stages of the journey from Chiapas, as many as 1,600 migrants had been with the caravan and about 80 percent of them were from Honduras.
Over time, the caravan dwindled to roughly 500 migrants as groups and individuals splintered off to travel either on their own or remain in Mexico, which opened its doors for migrants under pressure from the U.S.
However, many are placing pressure on the current administration, who they claim is treating the asylum seekers more like criminals than those trying to create a better life.
“It’s not illegal under U.S. law or under international law to cross another border to seek protection, to seek asylum,” said Maureen Meyer, who is the director for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America.
“What they are hoping to do is quickly process everyone and deport as many people as possible,” Meyer said, adding that the individuals are being treated as if they are breaking the law.
“The real risk of doing everything so promptly is that if the asylum seekers haven’t had a chance to substantiate their claims,” she added. “It’s less likely their case will be successful.”
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