Threats of prosecution and arrests did not deter hundreds of Central American migrants from coming to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum.
The migrant caravan reached the border on Sunday after weeks of travel from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Around 150 people queued up to seek asylum in the U.S. at the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego, California ― a legal way of coming to the U.S. and asking for help.
The caravan was organized by the nonprofit Pueblos Sin Fronteras to draw attention to the plight of migrants.
But the Trump administration has framed the caravan as a dangerous threat. President Donald Trump sent National Guard troops to the border in response, although they cannot and will not actually interact with the caravan members.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned in public statements that the U.S. would prosecute those who make false immigration claims, help others to do so or enter the country illegally. Nielsen also urged the migrants to stay in Mexico.
The U.S. did not allow them to make claims right away ― instead, many of them spent the night on the Mexican side of the border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Sunday it would limit the number of people who could make claims at the San Ysidro port of entry based on capacity.
Migrants arrive at U.S. ports of entry and seek asylum every day, but this situation is unique because of the caravan’s size, the Trump administration’s aggressive response and the intense media coverage.