US continues processing caravan asylum requests as some remain in tents

Chris Carlson  AP

Chris Carlson AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that 35 new assistant US attorney jobs have been created to help speed prosecution of illegal border crossings and immigrant smuggling in the four states bordering Mexico.

Ultimately, it will be up to an immigration judge to decide if their claims are legitimate.

"We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed", said Sessions. "People are not going to caravan or otherwise stampede our border", Sessions told reporters. People should wait their turn, ask to apply lawfully before they enter our country.

Despite unusual attention on the annual, awareness-raising caravan after President Donald Trump took issue with it last month, the most recent data through December does not show a dramatic change in the number of Central Americans seeking asylum.

Sessions announcing over two dozen supervisory judges are heading to the border to deal with the overflow of migrants.

His comments come as a caravan of largely Central American migrants have been waiting to request asylum at the US border after making a almost 3,000 mile trek. A large majority of the migrants are primarily fleeing violence in Honduras. In the end, however, only about 30 percent actually end up being able to prove they need asylum, and that is a "critical gap in the system", according to the commissioner.

About half of them are represented by the federal public defender in San Diego, according to the office's chief trial attorney, Shereen Charlick, including three women who had planned to present themselves and their children to make asylum claims at the official border port of entry. Officials say 10 of them come from countries associated with the caravan.

Other migrants wandered among boxes of cereal and diapers in a labyrinth of giant tents, near-luxury conditions for the bedraggled migrants, compared to the scarcity they had endured for weeks on their journey through Mexico to the US border.

Trump wants to tighten USA law to make it harder for people to claim asylum.

"Now, the caravan, which is over 1,000 people coming in from Honduras, thought they were just going to walk right through Mexico and right through the border", Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Sessions has said half of them never even bother to file an asylum claim, suggesting they were just trying to gain a foothold in the US and didn't actually believe they deserved asylum. "The question is if you don't want to have to go through this problem, don't come unlawfully", said Sessions.

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