Four locations in Tijuana were being set up for lawyers to tell the migrants what they should expect when they turn themselves in to U.S. custody for questioning by immigration officers.
GERARDO C. | ELLIOT SPAGAT
Tijuana, Mexico.- About 170 migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers have arrived in Tijuana, joining about nearly 200 others on their final stop before entering the United States.
Three tourist buses were guarded by a Mexican police escort on a curvy, mountainous road from the Mexican border city of Mexicali.
Lawyers planned free workshops on the U.S. immigration system on Friday and Saturday in Tijuana. Many planned to seek asylum starting Sunday at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, the nation’s busiest.
Migrant shelters in Tijuana’s Zona Norte neighborhood, home to the many of the city’s seedy bars and bordellos, were full.
That forced organizers to look elsewhere for temporary housing, said Leonard Olsen of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, a group leading the effort.
Migrants who stayed overnight at a shelter in Mexicali were tired from the long journey and nervous about the possibility of being detained in the U.S. but also knowledgeable about their rights to seek protection from persecution in their home countries, Olsen said. Many Central American asylum seekers say they face death threats by criminal gangs in their homelands.
“This is a moment that will change their lives,” Olsen said in Mexicali, as he waited for the buses to arrive a few hours behind schedule.
Caravans have been a fairly common tactic for advocacy groups to bring attention to asylum-seekers and the latest group pales in size compared to previous border surges, but it gained huge visibility after President Donald Trump unleashed strong criticism from the moment it began March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border.