San Diego

What You Need to Know About the Migrant Caravan's Arrival to the U.S.-Mexico Border

What to Know

  • The San Ysidro port of entry processes only about 100 asylum claims a day, Associated Press reports.
  • The wait for asylum seekers was approximately five weeks before the arrival of the most recent caravan.
  • The bulk of the caravan appears to be about 350 miles from the border.

As the first members of the migrant caravan arriving in Tijuana begin the asylum process, we take a look at what you need to know about the thousands of people making the journey to the U.S. through Mexico. 

What is the migrant caravan? 

Thousands of migrants have been traveling by foot or by vehicle from Central American countries through Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border. Small groups who have obtained transportation have arrived in Tijuana ahead of the rest of the caravan. Many say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability.

How many will arrive in the Tijuana/San Diego area? 

Buses and trucks began bringing migrants to the Tijuana area on Sunday, Nov. 12. The numbers of new arrivals each day could be in the hundreds until the majority of the caravan arrives. 

As of Thursday, it was estimated there were 1,660 migrants in the Tijuana area.

What's the asylum process? 

People who fear for their safety in their home country due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a group can request legal protection in the U.S. 

To be eligible, an individual must apply for asylum within a year of their arrival to the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection officers say they will process the migrants seeking asylum as space is available in the San Ysidro and Otay Port of Entries. The agency's employees also monitor shipping and trade, stop illegal drug and human smuggling and screen pedestrian and vehicle traffic through one of the busiest land border crossings in the world.

Under current regulations, an applicant is allowed to stay within the U.S. while the case is pending. People requesting asylum are held in detention centers until they can be interviewed. Then, when they are released to the U.S. and waiting for a court hearing, they are outfitted with ankle monitors. 

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Nov. 9 to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally. The plan was immediately challenged in court.

What are U.S. troops doing along the border? 

As of Nov. 16, the Pentagon said there were 5,800 troops deployed as part of the mission to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Here is how the U.S. government describes the duties of the thousands of military personnel deployed to the border: "Department of Defense personnel are installing concertina wire, and pre-positioning jersey barriers, barricades, and fencing as requested by CBP under Operation Secure Line."

Who is helping the migrants? 

Various religious organizations in Tijuana and San Diego have been preparing for the caravan's arrival. NBC 7 spoke with the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego who suggested donations may be dropped off at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in UTC area, 4321 Eastgate Mall.

The group organizing the caravan, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, has a crowdfunding website collecting donations.

Border Angels is providing a way for people interested in donating goods to order items from retail stores and request they be shipped to the organization's San Diego headquarters.

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