After months of grueling travel from Central America and through Mexico, some 200 members of the refugee caravan of immigrants fleeing Central American violence finally arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday.
Upon reaching the San Ysidro port of entry, members of the caravan were told by American officials to remain on the Mexican side of the border because the Customs and Border Protection facility for processing entries was already at maximum capacity.
“As sufficient space and resources become available, CBP officers will be able to take additional individuals into the port for processing,” CBP official Kevin McAleenan explained in a statement.
This seeming lack of preparedness for the arrival of a group whose every move has been tracked for weeks seemed to fly in the face of an April 25 assurance from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (emphasis mine):
DHS, in partnership with DOJ, has taken a number of steps to ensure the necessary resources are in place to promptly adjudicate all cases and claims, through either our civil immigration system or through criminal prosecution, consistent with our laws.
President Trump himself has repeatedly tweeted his objections to the caravan, lacing the messages with his standard racism.
“They have been well aware that a caravan is going to arrive at the border,” caravan attorney Nicole Ramos told reporters. “The failure to prepare and failure to get sufficient agents and resources is not the fault of the most vulnerable among us. We can build a base in Iraq in under a week. We can’t process 200 refugees. I don’t believe it.”
Ramos also claimed that lawyers representing caravan participants have already begun preparing asylum claims for more than 100 migrants, the majority of whom are children.
For now, the caravan, consisting largely of Honduran refugees fleeing drug and gang violence in their home country, remains parked on the Mexican side of the border, while supporters and well-wishers offer encouragement from the American side.
In a statement from the group the caravan participants made clear that their arrival at the U.S. is the end of just one chapter in their continuing fight for justice.
“Now that our journey is ending,” the group wrote, “we demand that our rights as refugees, migrants and human beings be respected.”