TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) – Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans, who have pulled the wrath of President Donald Trump to the US border in a month-long caravan, will make tough decisions on Sunday as to whether they risk being deported to cross or build a life in Mexico.
A man and his daughter, members of a migrant caravan from Central America fly between pigeons 28, 201
8 at the end of their journey through Mexico preparing for asylum in the US in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. REUTERS / Edgard Garrido [p19659003] Following angry tweets from Trump, US border officials said some caravan-related individuals had been caught trying to slip through the fence and encouraged the rest to hand over to the authorities.
"We are a very hospitable country, but just like your own home, we expect everyone to come through our front door and answer questions honestly," Rodney S. Scott, San Diego's chief police agent, said in a statement.
Most of the approximately 400 travelers who arrived on buses in Tijuana City in recent days said they wanted to apply for asylum in San Diego on Sunday, but lawyers who advised the group gave them strong advice – not Everyone will be successful.
After the exhausting journey, a gloomy mood set in as the reality sank, many of them were separated from their families. Lovers and parents with slightly older sons and daughters could be forced to split up.
At citywide venues, American immigration lawyers working on a voluntary basis on Saturday heard shocking stories about life in immigrant homelands.
A member of a migrant caravan from Central America kisses a baby while praying for asylum in the US in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico April 28, 2018. REUTERS / Edgard Garrido
Death threats from local gangs, The murder of family members, retaliation and political persecution at home prompted them to flee, say the migrants and lawyers.
Many of the immigrants who had long conversed with Reuters during their trip through Mexico had little knowledge of their legal rights, but at least 24 told detailed stories of death threats.
As poor migrants from Central America on a dangerous route through Mexico, they feared that they could be robbed, raped, arrested and attacked, so that caravaning was their only protection, they said.
The lawyers discussed which cases would have a better chance of passing the "credible fear" test required for the long and often difficult US asylum process, said immigration law firm Al Otro Lado, Spanish for On the Other Side.
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"Much depends on how well you can articulate your case," said one of the pro-bono lawyers who preferred to remain anonymous.
The others were advised to stay in Mexico, eliminating the risk that the US authorities would take them home more than 3,000 kilometers.
"We'll wait," Bryan Garcia from Honduras said next to a four-year-old Nicole who ate a strawberry biscuit while waiting for her mother to come out of a meeting with a lawyer.
Nicole and her mother come from El Salvador. They became friends with Garcia on the caravan trip, and the adults fell in love.
But Garcia would not ask for asylum – he would stay in Tijuana after being deported from the US
"We just have to keep in touch," he said as Nicole paused and blinked biscuit him.
Trump urges Mexico to stop migrants before they reach the border, linking the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexican efforts to stem the influx of Central Americans.
The friction coincided with the efforts of senior US, Canadian, and Mexican teams to renegotiate NAFTA on Trump's side. According to official statements, a deal could only be a few weeks away after a few months.
Mexico deports tens of thousands of Central Americans each year across its southern border with Guatemala.
Reporting by Delphine Schrank; Letter from Anthony Esposito; Arrangement by Frank Jack Daniel and Susan Thomas