As a caravan of migrants makes its way through southern Mexico, most members of the last migrant caravan that arrived in the spring are still waiting for their immigration cases to be decided, according to Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the organization that led the earlier group.
That caravan drew the ire of the Trump administration with several high-ranking officials coming to the California border to denounce the caravan’s plans to come to the U.S. One of those officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced the beginning of the zero tolerance policy, which led to mass family separations, when he came to San Diego to show his opposition to the caravan.
The administration has responded to the current caravan with active military deployed to the southwest border and threats to close off the border to asylum seekers. The administration has long pushed for changes in asylum processing that would keep children in custody longer and restrict who is eligible for protection.
Out of the several hundred caravan members who applied for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in early May, three people have won their asylum cases, and two have lost, according to Alex Mensing of Pueblo Sin Fronteras.
The rest may have a year or more left before their cases are over depending on where in the U.S. they’re living. The immigration court backlog of more than 760,000 cases nationwide varies widely between courts, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse of Syracuse University.
Those still in immigration detention centers will likely finish more quickly since courts prioritize detained cases.
A caravan member who already won his asylum case, Edgar, a 19-year-old from Honduras, spent the entirety of his case — nearly six months — held at Otay Mesa Detention Center. He was frustrated by the way officials at the facility treated him, he said.
“The treatment I received in the detention center wasn’t what I expected to receive in this country,” Edgar said in Spanish. “They treated us like criminals, the same as they would treat drug traffickers.”
Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency encourages detainees to report any mistreatment or abuse.
“ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care,” Mack said. “The agency is committed to ensuring that those in our custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement.”
Edgar fled Honduras in March after he was attacked by police for protesting the political situation there, and he spent about a week in Chiapas, a state in southern Mexico, before hearing about the caravan and joining it.
“It was the first time I was outside of my country, Edgar said. “Thank God I found the caravan.”
A judge at the detention center found his asylum claim valid on October 15, and Edgar has since moved to Manhattan.
Though the spring caravan at some point on its trek across Mexico numbered more than 1,000 migrants, many split off from the main group before it reached the border, and a little under 250 people were processed at the San Ysidro port of entry at the beginning of May as the official caravan.
According to Pueblo Sin Fronteras, about 93 percent of the caravan members who requested asylum passed their credible fear interviews, the first step in determining whether someone has a valid asylum claim.
One trans woman from Honduras died while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody less than a month after she asked for asylum at the border with the caravan.
Other caravan members chose to stay in Mexico instead of pursuing asylum in the U.S.
In recent months, a group of them has organized community events to call attention to what they see as discrimination from Tijuana police against migrants. Police responded by sitting down with the group and promising to provide human rights training to officers.
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