The Department of Justice filed the first criminal charges Monday against suspected members of the Central American migrant caravan who are attempting to turn themselves into U.S. authorities at the border in San Ysidro in order to seek political asylum in the United States.
Eleven people allegedly entered the country illegally and one defendant is also alleged to have previously been deported and was charged with illegal reentry. They were apprehended by Border Patrol agents between two and four miles west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The DOJ said that 29 people, including the 11 people charged, were arrested in five separate incidents from April 27 to 29. According to DOJ documents, 18 people were arrested by Border Patrol at a location known to BP agents as "Goat Canyon" on April 27 at around 9 p.m.
Of the 18 people arrested in that incident, 13 were from Honduras, three were from India, one was from Mexico and another was from Guatemala.
Seven people were arrested in the same area a few hours earlier at around 6 p.m. Of the seven arrested, six were from El Salvador and the seventh was from Honduras.
In a third incident at a location known to BP agents as "W-8," two people, one from Mexico and another from Guatemala, were arrested.
In a fourth incident at a location known to BP agents as "35 Draw," one person from Honduras was arrested, and in a fifth incident at a location known as "Eucci Grove," one person from Guatemala was arrested.
The DOJ didn't confirm whether the other 18 people arrested will be charged. The department also did not confirm how it came to suspect each person as a member of the migrant caravan.
“When respect for the rule of law diminishes, so too does our ability to protect our great nation, its borders and its citizens,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “The United States will not stand by as our immigration laws are ignored and our nation’s safety is jeopardized. U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman and his team should be commended for quickly filing illegal entry charges for individuals apprehended along the southwestern border. We will continue to work with our partners in each U.S. Attorney’s Offices to aggressively pursue prosecutions of criminal illegal entry.”
The complaints allege that the defendants knowingly and willingly entered into the United States at a time and place other than as designated by immigration officers, and "eluded examination and inspection by immigration officers."
“The American Dream has beckoned immigrants from across the globe because of the promise that prosperity and success are within reach for all,” said United States Attorney for the Southern District of California Adam L. Braverman. “Those immigrants have contributed their voices and perspectives to make up our uniquely American experience. But the foundation for the American Dream, and what allows our democracy to flourish, is commitment to the rule of law. These 11 defendants face charges now because they believed themselves to be above the law. Those seeking entry into the United States must pledge fidelity to the law, not break them, or else face criminal prosecution.”