Tuesday July 23, 2019
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Caravan migrants confused over next move at Mexico-U.S. border

Migrants without strong asylum cases were advised to remain in Mexico, although the Mexican government has not said whether it will allow them to stay.

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Members of a Central American migrant caravan that drew the wrath of President Donald Trump during its month-long journey through Mexico to the U.S. border faced hard choices on Sunday, as they decided whether to cross illegally into the United States, ask for asylum at the border or try to remain in Mexico.
Mexico-US border, wikimedia commons

Members of a Central American migrant caravan that drew the wrath of President Donald Trump during its month-long journey through Mexico to the U.S. border faced hard choices on Sunday, as they decided whether to cross illegally into the United States, ask for asylum at the border or try to remain in Mexico.

U.S. border authorities said Saturday that some people associated with the caravan had already been caught trying to slip through the fence and encouraged the rest to hand themselves in to authorities.

“We are a very welcoming country but just like your own house, we expect everyone to enter through our front door, and answer questions honestly,” San Diego Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott said in a statement.

Many of the migrants who spoke at length with Reuters at various points during their trip through Mexico recounted detailed stories of facing death threats.
Donald Trump, wikimedia commons

The group of about 400 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arrived in border city Tijuana on buses over the past couple of days, and most of them said Saturday they intended to legally seek asylum in San Diego on Sunday.

“I feel a little cold, I feel anxious,” said Jaime Alexander from El Salvador in the morning, shaking slightly. Later he and some other migrants will go to the border and attempt to request U.S. asylum. U.S. authorities have advised that there may be delays in their ability to process the migrants and that some “may need to wait in Mexico as [border officials] work to process those already within our facilities.”

A security guard back home, Alexander said he fled after a death threat. His feet are still swollen from days of walking as the group made its way to the border.

Legal advice

Lawyers advising the group warned the migrants on Saturday that not everyone will be successful. Asylum seekers must demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution at home and the overwhelming majority of those from Central America are denied refuge in the United States. Those denied asylum are generally deported to their home countries.

After the grueling journey, a somber mood took hold in Tijuana over the weekend as migrants faced an uncertain future in which they are likely to be detained and separated from friends and family.

“To anyone that is associated with this caravan, Think Before You Act,” Scott’s statement said, vowing to prosecute migrants entering the country illegally. “If anyone has encouraged you to illegally enter the United States, or make any false statements to U.S. government officials, they are giving you bad advice and they are placing you and your family at risk.”

At venues around Tijuana, volunteer U.S. immigration lawyers on Saturday listened to harrowing tales of life in the immigrants’ home countries.

Death threats from local gangs, the murder of family members, retaliatory rape, and political persecution back home prompted them to flee, the migrants told the lawyers.

Many of the migrants who spoke at length with Reuters at various points during their trip through Mexico recounted detailed stories of facing death threats.

Migrants without strong asylum cases were advised to remain in Mexico, although the Mexican government has not said whether it will allow them to stay.
Representational Image, wikimedia commons

‘Credible fear’ test

The lawyers advised which cases had a better chance of passing the “credible fear” test required to enter the long and often difficult U.S. asylum process, said immigrant rights organization Al Otro Lado, Spanish for On the Other Side.

Migrants without strong asylum cases were advised to remain in Mexico, although the Mexican government has not said whether it will allow them to stay.

“We’ll wait and see,” said Bryan Garcia, from Honduras, seated beside the four-year-old daughter of his new girlfriend as they waited for her mother to come out of a meeting with a lawyer.

Nicole and her mother are from El Salvador. They befriended Garcia along the caravan’s journey.

Garcia said he would not ask for asylum but would stay in Tijuana, having already been deported once from the U.S.

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“We’ll just have to try to stay connected,” he said as Nicole paused from eating her biscuit and blinked up at him.

Trump pressured Mexico to stop the migrants before they reached the border, linking the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to Mexican efforts to stem the flow of Central Americans.

The friction has coincided with high intensity efforts by U.S., Canadian and Mexican teams to renegotiate NAFTA at Trump’s bidding. Negotiators trying to hammer out a NAFTA deal said on Friday they will take a break until May 7.

Mexico deports tens of thousands of Central Americans every year back across its southern border with Guatemala. (VOA)

 

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Support for U.S. President Donald Trump Increases Slightly among Republicans

Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has lost support, however, with Democrats and independents

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US, President, Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 16, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Support for U.S. President Donald Trump increased slightly among Republicans after he lashed out on Twitter over the weekend in a racially charged attack on four minority Democratic congresswomen, a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll shows.

The national survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Trump told the lawmakers they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” showed his net approval among members of his Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72%, compared with a similar poll that ran last week.

Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has lost support, however, with Democrats and independents since the Sunday tweetstorm.

Among independents, about three out of 10 said they approved of Trump, down from four out of 10 a week ago. His net approval – the percentage who approve minus the percentage who disapprove – dropped by 2 points among Democrats in the poll.

US, President, Donald Trump
President Donald Trump portrays Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., left, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., 2nd left, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., 3rd left, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., right, as foreign-born troublemakers. VOA

Trump’s overall approval remained unchanged over the past week. According to the poll, 41% of the U.S. public said they approved of his performance in office, while 55% disapproved.

The results showed strong Republican backing for Trump as the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic resolution on Tuesday, largely along party lines, to condemn him for “racist comments” against the four Democratic lawmakers.

All four U.S. representatives – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – are U.S. citizens.

Three were born in the United States.

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The public response to Trump’s statements appeared to be a little better for him than in 2017, after the president said there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In that instance, Trump’s net approval dropped by about 10 points a week after the Charlottesville rally.

This time, while Democrats and some independents may see clear signs of racial intolerance woven throughout Trump’s tweets, Republicans are hearing a different message, said Vincent Hutchings, a political science and African-American studies professor at the University of Michigan.

“To Republicans, Trump is simply saying: ‘Hey, if you don’t like America, you can leave,” Hutchings said. “That is not at all controversial. If you already support Trump, then it’s very easy to interpret his comments that way.”

US, President, Donald Trump
The national survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Trump told the lawmakers they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Pixabay

By criticizing liberal members of the House, Trump is “doing exactly what Republicans want him to do,” Hutchings said. “He’s taking on groups that they oppose.”

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The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English and gathered responses from 1,113 adults, including 478 Democrats and 406 Republicans in the United States. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 3 percentage points for the entire group and 5 points for Democrats or Republicans. (VOA)