About 130 Central Americans seeking asylum and traveling in a caravan made it to Tijuana, Mexico, which sits on the Mexico-U.S. border about 20 miles south of San Diego, Wednesday evening, Reuters reported.
What will happen if they try to cross the border?
U.S. officials have repeatedly warned the migrants and their smugglers against attempting to enter the country illegally, or they'll face prosecution.
Authorities are expecting hundreds more in the next few days. The migrants arrived by bus on Tuesday at a shelterthat was a five minute-walk from the border, Reuters reported, and within sight of a U.S. flag fluttering under an overpass linking the two countries.
“Individuals of the 'caravan' seeking asylum or other similar claims should seek protections in the first safe country they enter, including Mexico," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a news release Wednesday.
Nielsen has urged Congress to work with the Trump administration to pass legislation that would protect the borders and stop criminals from taking advantage of immigration laws.
“The smugglers, traffickers, and criminals understand our legal loopholes better than Congress and are effectively exploiting them to their advantage. This President fully understands the threat this poses to Americans and has been crystal clear since the beginning of his Administration that we will protect our borders and our sovereignty," Neilsen said. “I, again, ask Congress to work with me to quickly pass legislation to close the legal loopholes that prevent us from securing our borders and protecting Americans. I stand ready to work with any member who in good faith seeks to support DHS’s mission and secure our country.”
Law enforcement agencies have resources in place "to promptly adjudicate all cases and claims, through either our civil immigration system or through criminal prosecution, consistent with our laws."
What's the problem with migrants seeking asylum?
Some of the migrants, mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, escaped their countries because of gang violence and death threats.
But others are criminals who have embedded themselves with the migrants as a way to enter the U.S.
On April 16, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents arrested an MS-13 gang member, who embedded himself in a caravan of 60 other immigrants, after he crossed the border illegally in Yuma, Arizona.
The 18-year-old El Salvadoran claimed he was an unaccompanied minor, according to a CBP news release.
All 61 illegal immigrants, which included 59 Guatemalan nationals and one Mexican national, surrendered to authorities.
President Donald Trump has threatened to scrap North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation talks if Mexico doesn't do something to control the flow of Central Americans through its country.
Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We m… https://t.co/mOUwvFuCpS— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1524491477.0