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Legal Review: Members of Central American “Caravan” Charged with Crossing Border Illegally

By Washington D.C. Immigration Attorney Natalia Segermeister of The Visa Firm of Price Benowitz LLP.

Eleven supposed members of the group of individuals fleeing violence in Central America (called a “caravan” by certain members of the media and certain politicians) have been arrested and charged in San Diego, CA for attempting to cross the border into the United States at a location not designated for such crossing and attempting to elude inspection by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents.

These individuals have been charged in the United States, and according to a recent Supreme Court ruling, may be detained until such time that a hearing may occur on their charges.

Whether they actually are members of the large contingent is unknown. About 150 members of the caravan presented themselves to the CBP agents at the San Ysidro entry point and requested asylum.

Procedurally, the request for asylum begins at the point of entry. From there, individuals must prove that they have a “well-founded fear” of persecution due to their race, ethnicity, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group in the country from which they are fleeing.

Unfortunately, this process can take years, and no claim for asylum is guaranteed. For these 150 or so asylum seekers, they may be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or released into the U.S. with ankle monitors.

“Asylum seekers such as the members of the caravan are looking to the United States for protection in times of fear and uncertainty,” said Asylum Attorney Natalia Segermeister, with The Visa Firm in Washington, D.C. “They have rights, just as anyone else does, and those rights must be respected and the rule of law followed — especially by immigration enforcement officials.”

The “caravan” has been well publicized and has presented an opportunity for the current administration to stake out its position on undocumented immigrants.

Representatives of the administration have indicated that the US Government will seek to charge anyone attempting to enter the country without proper documentation, and to deport anyone found to be in the country and undocumented.

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