San Diego

US Sends More Judges to Border for Migrant Caravan While Church Readies for Refugees

One San Diego pastor expects the bulk of the migrant caravan families to arrive on his church's doorsteps in the coming weeks

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is sending more federal attorneys and judges to the border region as migrants from Central America seek political asylum in the United States. 

"We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed. People are not going to caravan or otherwise stampede our border," Sessions said.

At least two dozen more migrants made their way into U.S. custody Wednesday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, south of San Diego, California.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection had accepted 28 caravan members for processing by late Tuesday, leaving about 100 to wait at the Mexican entrance.

Mexican officials have gone to some lengths to accommodate caravan members during their month-long journey, allowing them to traverse the country and sometimes travel under police escort.

Caravans such as these are a common method to bring attention to asylum seekers. This one has garnered more attention because President Donald Trump used the caravan as a justification for the border wall

U.S. authorities say temporary capacity constraints have forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico.

Once they are processed and allowed into the U.S., dozens of them, mainly women and children, are expected to live at Christ United Church and Ministry Center while they wait for court dates.

Pastor Bill Jenkins runs an immigrant shelter called Gateway Loft that he says is the only immigrant welcome center in all of Southern California.

Jenkins works closely with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as they often drop off migrants.

"These folks have no other place to go, so we provide a bed for them, a shower, we give them food, we give them a change of clothing and try to meet their spiritual needs," he told NBC 7 Wednesday.

He expects the bulk of the migrant caravan families to arrive at his church's doorsteps in the coming weeks.

Asylum-seekers are typically held up to three days at the border and then turned over to ICE officials. If they pass an asylum officer's initial screening, they may be detained or released into the U.S. with ankle monitors.

Right now Jenkins and other faith organizations across the county are working together on a plan to house these new refugees.

Some of them will have family connections, but many will arrive with no resources and just a few clothes in a small suitcase.

Jenkins says the people his center helps are in the system, meaning they have asylum seeking documentation and didn't sneak across the border.

However, he knows many of them will not get to stay in the U.S. long-term because asylum can be a difficult thing to prove.

"We don't operate out of fear, we operate out of love," Jenkins said. "So how can we say no to a woman and a child?" 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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