Central American asylum seekers get legal aid near U.S. border

Apr 30, 2018, 01:38
Central American asylum seekers get legal aid near U.S. border

In early April, after scathing tweets from the USA president, organizers said the group had become so big that it was unwieldy and would end its journey in Mexico City rather than continuing to the border. Hundreds of immigrants, the remnants of a caravan of Central Americans that began nearly a month ago, set out on the last leg of their journey north in Mexico. Among the marchers are immigration lawyers, who will advise the migrants on the best way to submit asylum applications to US immigration authorities, according to Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), one of the participating groups. The caravan has triggered vitriol from US conservative media outlets, the White House and many Trump supporters, who see it as a mass effort to illegally cross into the United States. The secretary also said asylum seekers in the caravan should seek protection in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico.

The controversial migrant caravan has arrived at the U.S. -Mexico border.

A mother and her child who are traveling with a caravan of Central American migrants wait in line for a free meal after arriving to the Juventudes 2000 shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

"Nobody is like handing out asylum like driver's licenses", said Jacobs.

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President Donald Trump reacted angrily to the news, accusing the Mexican government of facilitating illegal immigration and demanding that USA lawmakers act to tighten asylum laws. Some are also from El Salvador, which like Honduras has one of the world's highest murder rates.

Castro and most of the other asylum-seekers come from Honduras, where a divisive presidential election has led to killings in the streets.

Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen warned this week that any person trying to cross into the USA who makes false claims to immigration authorities will subject to criminal prosecution.

Event organizers say they are marching in the name of migrants who "suffer repression and violence in their own country and for their human right to seek asylum in the country of their choice".

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The Home Secretary, who has faced calls to resign over the crisis, told MPs she had become aware of there was a "potential issue" over the "past few months".

She plans to give the Central Americans advice for their asylum cases before many of them cross on Sunday. The U.S. has tended to identify those people as fleeing crime, which is not grounds for asylum, rather than individual persecution.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has criticized "vague, insubstantial and subjective" asylum claims, is using his power to overturn judicial decisions in immigration court to reshape how those courts work.

"The efforts of USA officials to tarnish asylum seekers as criminals are cynical fabrications that ring hollow".

Turning away someone seeking asylum without considering his claim violates national and global law.

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And the Trump administration has been working to limit asylum further, as NPR's Joel Rose reported last month.