Late Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began processing the asylum requests of eight members of the "caravan" of Central Americans who traveled up through Mexico, earning the ire of President Trump, after the asylum-seekers spent up to three days waiting outside the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego. The group that organized the caravan, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said that the eight people chosen to be first to apply for asylum were two mothers from Honduras and their children, and that 140 more people are waiting to turn themselves in at the San Ysidro crossing.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the caravan's asylum seekers are having to wait so long for processing because the San Ysidro crossing station was at capacity. Volunteer U.S. lawyers warned the caravan members in Tijuana that they may be detained for months and parents may be separated from their children, but the migrants were not deterred.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department charged 11 people believed to be from the caravan with illegally entering the U.S. According to the complaints, filed Monday, the two Salvadorans, six Hondurans, two Guatemalans, and one Mexican were picked up on the U.S. side of the border about 4 miles to the west of the San Ysidro port. They will be charged with misdemeanors and one, who allegedly had entered the U.S. before, also faces a felony charge. The charges are apparently a first salvo in Attorney General Jeff Sessions' new crackdown on people entering the U.S. illegally.
Under international law, the U.S. must accept and process the asylum requests of anyone who seeks such protections at a port of entry. The success rate isn't high, though — nearly 80 percent of asylum-seekers passed their initial screening last fall, The Associated Press says, but from 2012 to 2017, more than three-quarters of Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans had their U.S. asylum requests rejected.