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Migrant caravan at US border is harboring more than 500 criminals, Homeland Security claims

Morethan500 criminalsare traveling with themigrantcaravanthat’s massed on the other side of a SanDiegobordercrossing, homeland securityofficials said Monday afternoon.

The revelationwas madeduring a conferencecallwithreporters, with officials asserting that “most of the caravanmembers are notwomen and children”. They claimed the group is mostly madeup of a single adult or teen males and that the women andchildren have beenpushed to the frontof the line in a bid to garner sympathetic media coverage.

“All legal options are onthe table and we have beennegotiating with all our partners in centralAmerica with ways to dealwiththe caravan,” one official said when asked about reports that the U.S. governmentis planning to make asylum-seekers remain on theMexican side of the borderwhile their claims are being reviewed.

Homeland Securityofficials say there arecurrently 6,000 peopleinTijuana waiting to be processedat the San Ysidroborder crossing, withmore on the way.

Thosewho havealreadyentered thebordercity in the past fewdays have been met with an icyreception. The group’smembers are also comingto the realization thatthey couldbe stuck on thatunwelcoming side of the fence for monthsiftheytry to enterAmerica thelegal way.

Addingtotheincreasing certainty of thegroup’s situation, theU.S. BorderPatrol temporarily closedallnorthboundlanes at the San YsidroPort of Entryearly Monday morning asthe U.S. continuesto “positionadditionalport hardening materials.

“Unfortunately, somemembersof thecaravan are purposelycausingdisruptions at our border ports of entry,” HomelandSecurity SecretaryKirstjenNielsen posted on Twitter. “There is a legal andillegal way to enter the U.S. We have deployed additionalforces to protectour border.”

Given the increasingattention on thecaravan, and theinsistence by top U.S. officials that the migrants will notsimply be allowed to enter the U.S., the crowds in Tijuana reportedly may end uphaving to wait six months for their asylum claims to be heard.

“We have to wait — for how long?” LeninHerrera Batres, a 20-year-oldwholeft Honduras with his wifeand 2-year-old son, askedthe NewYorkTimes. “We don’t have the moneyto stayhere for one month, two months.”

Another migrant,24-year-old José Adan Núñez, toldthe newspaper “if I die on the way, at least I will have foughtforsomething,” after spending a few days in a shelter inTijuana.

U.S. borderinspectorsare already processingonly about 100 asylumclaimsper day at Tijuana’s maincrossing to SanDiego, according to the AssociatedPress. Asylum seekers areregistering theirnames in a tatterednotebook managed by migrants themselves that hadmore than 3,000 nameseven before the first members of the leadingcaravan started arriving last week.

The arrivals are expectedto continue throughout Monday and into the week ahead. Most of a group of3,400 migrants, who were lastin the border city of Mexicali, should make it toTijuana Monday, an advocacyorganization told the New York Times.

Tijuana Mayor JuanManuelGastélum – who has referred to the arrivals as “bums” and questionedwhether a referendum in the city of 1.6 millionisneeded to determine whether or not theyshould beallowed to stay – reportedlyestimated the migrants may have to waitsix months for their asylum claims to be processed.

The MexicanInterior Ministry announcedFridaythat justunder 2,700 Central American migrants haveapplied forasylum in Mexicounder a program launched late last month thatpledged to provide themwithwork and livingpermissions faster.

Yetofficialsanticipate the migrant caravan arrivals inTijuana will soon swell in excess of 10,000 people – and will need to be housedfor an extended period of time – which the Mexicangovernment says it lacks theresources for.

The majority of migrants,who have been on foot for more than a month, are sleeping on a dirt baseballfield at an outdoor sports complex in Tijuana by the newly-fortified barbed wirefence that separatesMexico from the United States.

And they haven’t gotten a warm welcome from theresidents of Tijuana.

On Sunday, hundreds oflocals gathered around amonument in the city to protest the migrants’ arrival,waving Mexicanflags and chanting “Out! Out!” the Associated Press reported.

“We don’t want theminTijuana,” protesters werereported to have shouted.

Juana Rodriguez, ahousewife, told the AP that theMexican government needs to conduct backgroundchecks on the migrants to makesure they don’t have criminal records.

A woman who gave her nameas Paloma also lambastedthe migrants, who she said came to Mexico in searchof handouts. “Let their government take care of them,” she told video reporterscovering the protest.

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