Migrant Caravan, After Grueling Trip, Reaches U.S. Border. Now the Really Hard Part.

They deliberate to use for asylum at the American border, however knew there was a very good likelihood that they might be break up up throughout the course of — probably for months.

“But I’m going with the feeling that it’s going to be worth the effort,” mentioned Mr. Quintanillo. He mentioned his household have been fleeing a gang that had attacked him and killed an in depth relative. “In the name of God, everything is possible,” he mentioned.

Overlaying the private struggles was a dense tangle of politics and coverage — the acrimony between Mr. Trump and Gov. Jerry Brown of California over immigration; the politics of sanctuary cities; the sick will between Mr. Trump and Mexico that started the day he introduced his candidacy; and the political logjam in Congress over funding Mr. Trump’s proposed border wall.


Families from the caravan ready for a meal.

Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

It all performs out in the context of Mr. Trump’s aim of creating immigration a galvanizing concern in the midterm elections with Republicans frightened about dropping management of the House and maybe the Senate.

Heather Cronk, co-director of Showing Up for Racial Justice, one among a number of American advocacy teams which were serving to the caravan and its individuals, traveled to Tijuana to help the migrants in the closing stretch.

“For us, this is all about who we are as a country,” she mentioned. She added: “This is an existential moment. This is a spiritual moment. I want it to be true that when we say, ‘Liberty and justice for all,’ we mean it.”

It is a debate Mr. Trump apparently relishes.

With the migrants on the doorstep of the United States, Mr. Trump, in a tweet final week, ratcheted up his rhetoric, vowing “not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly got here again to immigration points at a rally in Michigan Saturday evening, saying at one level: “If we don’t get border security, we’ll close down the country,” apparently referring to a authorities shutdown when a funding deadline is reached in September.

Other administration officers have additionally been vocal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.”

In a press release Saturday, Rodney S. Scott, the San Diego chief patrol agent for Customs and Border Protection, mentioned that teams of individuals related to the caravan had illegally entered the United States by climbing over a steel fence. He mentioned individuals who entered the nation illegally can be referred for prosecution.

“To anyone that is associated with this caravan, think before you act,” the assertion learn. “If anyone has encouraged you to illegally enter the United States, or make any false statements to U.S. government officials, they are giving you bad advice and they are placing you and your family at risk.”

Joined by supporters and dozens of members of the information media, the migrants gathered in a park on the Pacific Ocean about 10 a.m. native time after which later in entrance of a neighborhood heart in downtown Tijuana. Scores of supporters, a few of whom had walked from so far as Los Angeles, rallied Sunday morning simply north of the fence separating the United States from Mexico.


A household trying by the border fence into the United States.

Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

Those eligible for asylum had deliberate to use later in the afternoon.

To qualify, candidates should show they’ve been persecuted or worry persecution based mostly on their race, faith, nationality, political views or membership in a selected group.

People who request safety at a United States entry level should be referred to an asylum officer for a screening, often known as a credible-fear interview. If the officer finds that an applicant has an opportunity of proving worry of persecution, the individual should then current his or her case earlier than a decide. More than three quarters of candidates move that preliminary evaluate.

While awaiting their court docket date, candidates could also be launched, although they need to put on an ankle-bracelet monitor. Those who don’t move their interview face months in detention and eventual deportation.

“We’re only sending people who we think will pass the credible-fear interview,” mentioned Nicole Ramos, a volunteer immigration lawyer serving to the caravan.

Ms. Ramos mentioned she feared that with all the worldwide consideration on the caravan, the White House may be even much less inclined to point out mercy, even to those that move their interviews.

Customs and Border Protection, whose officers are stationed at ports of entry, mentioned late Sunday that it had exhausted its capability to deal with folks touring with out paperwork.

“Depending upon port circumstances at the time of arrival, those individuals may need to wait in Mexico as C.B.P. officers work to process those already within our facilities,” the company’s commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, mentioned in a press release. He mentioned the company would talk with Mexican authorities.

Advocates criticized the authorities for failing to course of the migrants looking for to current themselves to American authorities, on condition that it had been anticipating them and that these looking for asylum represented a minority of these initially in the caravan.

“It’s hard to believe the United States is not capable of processing this relatively small number of requests for refugee protection, particularly given the extensive media coverage and notice U.S. officials had of this group,” mentioned Eleanor Acer, director of refugee safety at Human Rights First.


A younger boy from Honduras standing close to the border wall.

Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

Migrant households that request asylum at the port of entry are more likely to be positioned on buses to Texas, the place they may stay in detention facilities for moms and kids. Adult males are more likely to be detained in any variety of amenities throughout the nation that maintain undocumented immigrants.

It is in these amenities that the migrants can be screened by United States immigration officers over the subsequent a number of days. If they move the credible-fear interview, the migrants can be allowed to make their case for asylum earlier than an immigration decide, a course of that unfolds over a number of months or longer.

Migrants, usually fitted with the ankle screens, typically are allowed to journey to the inside of the nation, the place they stick with kin or buddies whereas their circumstances run their course.

Mr. Trump, nonetheless, has denounce that apply as a result of some migrants have skipped their court docket hearings; he dismissed it as “catch and release.” In latest months, migrant advocates say, the Trump administration has saved many migrants looking for asylum in detention.

For all the excessive political stakes, the human stakes for the particular person migrants planning to hunt asylum Sunday have been a minimum of as excessive.

Byron Claros, a Salvadoran immigrant, joined the caravan along with his 18-year-old brother, Luis Alexander Rodriguez, and their stepfather, Andres Rodríguez.

Mr. Claros and Mr. Rodriguez deliberate to petition for asylum Sunday afternoon; their stepfather, after session with volunteer legal professionals in Tijuana, determined that his case for sanctuary was not sturdy sufficient and that he would stay behind in Mexico.

“The hour I’ve waited for my entire life has finally arrived,” Mr. Claros mentioned early Sunday afternoon as he, a whole bunch of migrants, scores of their supporters, reporters and cameramen gathered in and in entrance of a neighborhood heart and cafe in the Centro district of Tijuana, blocks from the border crossing.

Mr. Rodriguez mentioned he was nervous, “because the United States can support our rights but can also deny us our rights.”

Still, he mentioned, there was just one solution to push: north.

“We’ve fought too much to get here,” he mentioned. “And we’re here.”

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