MEXICO CITY – Seventy men, women and children poured through a U.S. port of entry early Friday to seek asylum, the largest single group yet accepted by U.S. officials from the caravan of Central American migrants that enraged President Donald Trump.
Fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the migrants were among the last who had planned to ask for asylum, bringing the total to 228 who have crossed the border since last weekend.
The nearly 400 migrants who reached Tijuana the previous week faced wrenching dilemmas about whether to enter the United States and request asylum, beginning an indefinite and complex process that could end in deportation. Many decided to stay in Mexico for now.
After a monthlong, 2,000-mile (3,200-km) journey, their arrival at the border was hotly anticipated. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions beefed up legal resources on the border this past week to handle people from the caravan.
Trump had urged that the caravan to be detained and repeated his call for stronger border security Monday morning, writing on Twitter, “Our Southern Border is under siege.”
The Trump administration said on Friday it will end temporary protections on Jan. 5, 2020, for up to 57,000 Honduran immigrants who arrived in the United States in the wake of Hurricane Mitch two decades ago. Temporary protection is different than the asylum status being claimed by members of the caravan.
In Mexico outside the port of entry, the remaining migrants were joined in a makeshift camp by other would-be asylum-seekers who had come seeking information and donations.
Meanwhile, the caravan’s organizers scrambled to collect migrants’ names to track their dispersal across U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement centers after they exit the port of entry’s detention facility in coming days.