Migrant Caravan Moving Closer, But Will They Get Into the States Or Be Deported?

The migrant caravan en route from Central America to the United States, by way of Mexico, is long and treacherous. Approximately 5,000 migrants departed Mexico City in the heart of the country last weekend, and now up to 6,500 are expected to reach Guadalajara in the next couple of days.

United States President Donald Trump last Friday signed a proclamation that stated he would block all asylum requests from this caravan. Language from the proclamation has drawn debate on both sides of this issue.

The White House says it's within the parameters of the president to block such requests.

"Those who enter the country between ports of entry — i.e. illegally — are knowingly and voluntarily breaking the law," a senior administration official told reporters. "While all immigration laws do afford people various forms of protection, the reality is that it's a violation of federal law to enter our country in the manner that these illegal aliens are entering the country."

The exact route of the caravan could go anywhere from California to the South Texas border. Track the migrant caravan here.

And though The White House specifically says it will not grant asylum requests to those who enter between ports of entry, there are several entry points along the Southern U.S. Border the migrants could overwhelm — much like they did at Mexico's southern border.

For instance, there are a total of 29 land, air or sea ports of entry in Texas, with about of a third of them at, or near, the Mexican border. They dot the Rio Grande from El Paso to Brownsville, with entry ports in places like Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Hidalgo, Laredo, Progreso, Weslaco and Rio Grande City.

According to HumanRightsFirst.org, "An individual can request asylum from within the United States or at the border, whether between ports of entry or at a port of entry. The standards for a grant of asylum are rigorous under U.S. immigration law and the process has become increasingly complex. Many legitimate refugees often have their asylum requests rejected initially in our system."

According to the law, individuals who seek entry at the border, but do not have valid documents allowing them to enter the country, are generally summarily deported at the border and returned to their home countries without being put into immigration court removal proceedings. This is known as expedited removal, part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA).

Michael H. Posner, Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, served in the Obama administration from 2009–2013 as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. He has worked on refugee policy nearly 40 years, including contributing to the Refugee Act of 1980. He wrote a Forbes article calling the restriction on asylum seekers' rights "draconian."

"The [Trump] administration's mean-spirited and unwarranted action on asylum needs to be seen in its broader context," Posner wrote. "Administration officials argue they are seeking to dismantle the asylum system because genuine refugees can apply for admission from abroad. But the administration simultaneously is undermining the overseas refugee admissions program as well.

"At a moment when the world is yearning for moral and political leadership from the United States, the administration's dramatic abdication of responsibility with respect to refugees and asylum seekers is unwise and indefensible."

The immigration issue, and more specifically the migrant caravan, became a Republican talking point during the recent midterm elections. Though temporarily quieted by election recounts in Arizona and Florida, and California issues like current wildfires and the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting, conversation of the caravan should ramp up as it draws nearer the U.S. border.

"The law is clear: People can apply for asylum whether or not they're at a port of entry, and regardless of their immigration status," said Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, in a New York Times article. "The president doesn't get to ignore that law, even if he dislikes it."

The president has already sent 5,600 U.S. troops to the southern border. For days, they have been strategically placing barbed wire barriers to slow illegal immigration. They've set up tents for both themselves and border agents.

As what they're to do if confronted by those crossing illegally, the troops are to apprehend them as a border agent would do, per this report on NBC.