Thirty two (32) religious leaders and activists were arrested at the U.S. border fence in San Diego on Monday during a protest to support the Central American migrant caravan.
Over 400 demonstrators, many leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, seek to stop the detention and deportation of migrants and for the United States to accept the caravan that arrived in Tijuana, Mexico in November.
Singing and praying, religious leaders marched forward in lines of four to six, some wore T-shirts which read, “Love Knows No Borders.” They were handcuffed and led away by federal agents upon entering a restricted area in front of the fence.
“As a Quaker who believes in our shared humanity…We’re calling on the U.S. to respect the rights of migrants,” Joyce Ajlouny said, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, which has run a week of actions to back migrants.
Spokesman to the U.S. Border Patrol, Theron Francisco said 31 people were arrested by Federal Protective Services for encroaching and one was arrested by Border Patrol for assaulting an agent.
The arrests indicated the second confrontation with U.S. authorities since the caravan arrived Tijuana. U.S. Border Patrol agents shot tear gas at migrants on Nov. 25 after they said they had stones thrown at them.
Large number of migrants are living in crowded shelters and encampments in Tijuana after journeying from Central America to run from poverty and violence. They may have to wait weeks or months to claim asylum at the U.S. border.
Based on Data released on Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) indicated asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border rose 67 percent in the 2018 fiscal year from a year earlier.
U.S. immigration officials explains that most of these claims, which are accepted, exploit a legal loophole permitting migrants to enter the United States while they wait for a court hearing on their asylum case.
CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement that “As the majority of these claims will not be successful when they are adjudicated by an immigration court, we need Congress to act to address these vulnerabilities,”
Protest leaders noted that President Donald Trump had described the caravan as a security threat to promote his “anti-immigrant” agenda and further limit migrants’ ability to seek asylum.
A U.S. judge in November stopped Trump’s proclamation to hinder migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally from seeking asylum.