Immigration officials begin to process some 150 asylum-seekers who reached San Diego border
The Justice Department is acting quickly against suspected members of the so-called “caravan” of immigrants who allegedly illegally entered the country, escalating a showdown with immigration activists who are trying to rally support for Central American asylum-seekers aiming to gain entry to the United States at the San Diego border.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Monday night announced that the Justice Department has filed criminal charges against 11 different suspected members of the caravan, alleging that the immigrants illegally entered the country.
“When respect for the rule of law diminishes, so too does our ability to protect our great nation, its borders and its citizens,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “The United States will not stand by as our immigration laws are ignored and our nation’s safety is jeopardized.”
Sessions said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Adam Braverman should be commended for “quickly filing illegal entry charges for individuals apprehended along the southwestern border.”
“We will continue to work with our partners in each U.S. attorney’s offices to aggressively pursue prosecutions of criminal illegal entry,” Sessions said.
Braverman, in a statement, said the American dream has “beckoned immigrants from across the globe because of the promise that prosperity and success are within reach for all.”
He praised immigrants for contributing their “voices and perspectives to make up our uniquely American experience,” but stressed that the foundation for the American dream, “which allows our democracy to flourish,” is a “commitment to the rule of law.”
“These 11 defendants face charges now because they believed themselves to be above the law,” Braverman said. “Those seeking entry to the United States must pledge fidelity to the law, not break them, or else face criminal prosecution.”
The announcement comes after the so-called caravan of immigrants from Central America—which the Trump administration has been closely monitoring since it started March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border—arrived at the San Diego border with Mexico over the weekend and tried to gain entry at the San Ysidro official port of entry in San Diego.
Immigration advocates, including Amnesty International, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, and several immigration lawyers, held press conferences or gave statements to the press over the last two days in an attempt to persuade the United States to allow the group’s entry into the United States.
President Trump has repeatedly decried U.S. immigration policies that allow people requesting asylum to be released from custody while their claims wend their way through the courts, which can take several months to a year.
Vice President Mike Pence on Monday visited a U.S. Customs and Border Protection office accused “open-border activists” of exploiting immigrants seeking asylum in the United States to try to exert pressure on U.S. immigration authorities and the Trump administration to allow the group to enter the country.
During the visit to the CBP office in El Centro, Calif., Pence signaled that U.S. immigration authorities would not bow to any pressure but instead would abide by the law and continue processing the group of roughly 150 remaining asylum-seekers into the country’s immigration detention facilities.
Pence also said U.S. authorities would seek legal action against anyone who violates immigration law by illegally entering the country without following the normal asylum process or lies to authorities about their reasons for seeking asylum.
Pence told border-patrol agents and officials that he’s grateful for their work, especially over the weekend, in ensuring that the “caravan” of immigrations from Honduras and other Central American countries are “dealt with in manner consistent with the law, and that our laws are enforced.”
By: Susan Crabtree
(Washington Free Beacon)