About 200 Central American migrants from the “caravan” that provoked the ire of President Donald Trump arrived at the U.S. border on Sunday, where they were told there was no room for asylum seekers.
The group, composed primarily of migrants from Honduras who say they are fleeing gang violence and extortion, arrived after a 2,500-mile journey through Mexico on bus, train, and foot at an official border crossing at the Tijuana-San Diego border.
According to USA Today, just before the migrants arrived, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency announced they would not be processed for asylum because it had reached capacity for the day for asylum applications. It said the agency would not process any more “until space becomes available,” according to ABC News. Immigration advocates expressed surprise and frustration, as the Department of Homeland Security had announced on April 23 that immigration officials were being sent to the border to prepare for the caravan’s arrival. One group of migrants went ahead to the San Ysidro port of entry to try to request asylum, while others remained behind to wait to be allowed in, according to USA Today.
The migrants who appeared at the U.S. border were only a portion of the group of nearly 1,000 people who participated in the caravan, seeking safety in numbers during the trek through Mexico. Roughly the same number who continued to the U.S. border elected to remain in Tijuana to seek asylum, according to ABC—a decision encouraged by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who last week warned of the legal consequences of crossing the border illegally and urged participants in the caravan to seek asylum in “the first safe country they enter, including Mexico.”
This is not the first caravan to make the route, but this particularly large one, with the help of the president’s favorite television program, caught Trump’s attention and became a point of contention in the immigration debate. According to the Los Angeles Times, supporters and protesters arrived on the U.S. side of the border with opposing messages about how welcome the migrants were, and roughly 75 people around the country expressed interest in housing asylum seekers.
Trump spoke again of the caravan on Saturday at a rally in Michigan. “Are you watching that mess that’s going on right now with the caravan coming up?” he told the crowd. “We have the worst laws anywhere in the world, we don’t have borders.”