Migrant Caravan members denied chance of applying for asylum at Mexico-US border

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Over 150 people were forced to spend the night on the Mexican side of the border.

By Tanya Wadhwa / The Dawn News / April 30, 2018

After a journey of over a month, over 150 members of Viacrucis Migrante, known as Central American Migrant Caravan, reached the US border on April 29 and were met with a hostile response. The Caravan, organised with the aid of Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People without Borders),  reached Tijuana after a 2,000-mile journey, during which they were subject to harassment and hate campaigns.

At Tijuana, the migrants were told that the immigration officials could not process their claims, and would have to spend the night on the Mexican side of the border. Many of the migrants are from Honduras and risk repression and persecution from the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández. Earlier this month, following a false report from Fox News, US President Donald Trump had threatened to send the National Guard to the border against the migrants. For many migrants, returning to their countries means putting their lives at further risk.

On the US side of the border, activists under the banner of March Without Borders, gathered to express their solidarity with the Caravan.

Pueblo Sin Frontera, through a Facebook post, put forth the demands of the migrants as they end their journey across Mexico. The post reads, “We simply demand our rights as refugees, migrants, and human beings to be respected:

  1. We demand the right to seek asylum. We demand that we are not separated from our children and are not tortured by indefinite detention. Seeking asylum is not a crime. On the contrary, it is a right protected by law.
  2. We demand an end to the militarization of the northern and southern Mexican borders by the U.S. and Mexican governments, who have cruelly and uselessly sent troops (the U.S. and Mexican National Guards) to the borders to repress us — families, mothers, children, and grandparents who fled war and seek life.
  3. We demand that the U.S. stop sending money to the Honduran government, with the exception of humanitarian aid, because their money is used to purchase the guns that Juan Orlando Hernández’s troops use to kill those of us from Honduras when we go out to protest in defense of our rights.”

Most members of the caravan, who were seeking a Mexican residency visa on humanitarian grounds, got their initial papers in the second week of April.

Writing about the US government and Trump’s response to the Caravan, Kathryn Johnson of the American Friends Service Committee noted the repressive conditions in Honduras following the re-election of Hernández last year and how this had led to many more people from that country joining the march. “The U.S. government should respect the rights they’re granted under international and U.S. law and allow them to apply for asylum there. If caravan participants are turned away at the border—or denied a fair hearing and returned to dangerous conditions—they will have failed not only international law but a grave moral test. When they had the opportunity to protect the persecuted, they chose to drive them away with their military,” she wrote.

As the authorities on both sides of the border refuse to take any helpful action, uncertainty looms over the fate of the migrants.

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