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Volunteer US attorneys went across Mexico border to counsel caravan travelers seeking asylum

Central American migrants travelling in the 'Migrant Via Crucis' caravan have breakfast at the Padre Chava's kitchen soup before receiving legal counseling, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on April 27, 2018. The US has threatened to arrest around 100 Central American migrants if they try to sneak in from the US-Mexico border where they have gathered, prompting President Donald Trump to order troop reinforcements on the frontier. (Gullermo Arias/ Getty Images)

About 20 volunteer U.S. lawyers traveled across the border into Mexico to hold legal workshops for Central American asylum seekers traveling in a “caravan,” the Associated Press reported.

Were they coached on what to say?

An estimated 300 migrants were counseled in workshops held in a civic group office at Tijuana’s largest migrant shelter and at an art gallery that once housed a cross-border tunnel used to run drugs into San Diego. Journalists were not allowed to sit-in on the sessions.

Lawyers reportedly offered information about the U.S. asylum process while children of the migrants played in the background. Migrants were also warned that they could be separated from their children and face detention if they are allowed to stay in the U.S., according to the report.

Reportedly, attorneys met one-on-one with some of the migrants, but did not coach them on what to say, Alex Mensing, an organizer of the effort with the Pueblos Sin Fronteras group, told the Associated Press.

"We always emphasize you have to tell the truth," Mensing said.

Central American migrants often cite gang violence as the reason they are seeking asylum.

When are they planning to arrive?

The migrants' plan to come to the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday, despite warnings from the Trump administration. After arriving in the U.S. the migrants could face detention, prosecution and deportation, officials have said.

This week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned that migrants who makes false claims to immigration authorities will face criminal prosecution. Anyone assisting or coaching them may also face prosecution, Nielsen said.

Caravan travelers should also seek protection in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico, Nielsen said.

Asylum-seeker advocacy groups are using caravans to bring awareness to their cause. The latest caravans have had increased visibility after border surges started taking place on March 25, the report stated.

As many as 1,000 people had joined the caravan as it crossed Mexico. Trump and other officials portrayed it as proof of an unsecure border and support for the border wall he wants to build.

One last thing…
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