- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The people from the illegal immigrant caravan making bogus asylum claims in the U.S. are keeping other more deserving people from war-torn and troubled countries from getting to safety here, President Trump’s top immigration enforcement official said Tuesday.

Thomas D. Homan, who is leading U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the Trump administration will not be forced by the caravan, which is demanding its 150 or so participants be granted quick hearings to gain entry and begin their asylum claims in the U.S.

“We’re not going to do it on their time frame,” Mr. Homan said on “Fox & Friends.”

The caravan started out as about 1,500 people, mostly from Honduras, who have made their way across Mexico over the last five weeks, and now are in Tijuana demanding entry to the U.S. But rather than jumping the border, they are waiting for appointments with Customs and Border Protection officers, where they plan to make their asylum claims, which will then be heard through the usual process.

Caravan organizers say the U.S. is required to let them all have appointments, and they have blasted border officials, saying they are slow-walking the process.

Just eight people were allowed to make claims Monday. Organizers said the group ended up deciding three women, four children and one 18-year-old should go first. The others have vowed to wait out U.S. officials.

By contrast, dozens of people associated with the caravan were nabbed by the Border Patrol after having sneaked into the U.S., a source said.

Eleven of them were charged Monday with crimes for jumping the border. Most of them were given $10,000 bonds.

Immigrant-rights activists objected to anyone in the caravan being arrested, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the reports “incredibly troubling,” saying anyone seeking asylum has a right to be heard.

“The criminal prosecution of asylum seekers for illegal entry or similar offenses calls into question whether the United States is complying with international obligations,” she said in a statement.

Analysts say most of the people are unlikely to have valid asylum cases. Indeed, only about 1 in 5 cases from Central American countries such as Honduras or El Salvador is successful.

Under the usual process, asylum-seekers at the border would be screened and it they claim a “credible fear” of being sent back home — a fairly low bar that the migrants have been instructed on how to meet — they will then be given a future date with an immigration judge, who will rule on the case.

In the past, those court proceedings could be delayed for two years, and the government was releasing the asylum-seekers into the country on parole, where 80 percent would disappear and never show up for their later hearings. Officials have vowed this time to hold the caravan asylum-seekers until they can have their hearings, in order to make sure they aren’t released to disappear.

Caravan organizers, though, say they are hoping the migrants will be paroled or bonded out.

Mr. Homan said Tuesday some of the caravan migrants will probably have legitimate asylum cases they’ll be able to prove. But he said many won’t — and they’re taking places that deserving refugees should have.

“There are people in this world that really need to come to our country. They really are escaping fear and persecution. And when you clog the system you’re delaying people who really need our help,” Mr. Homan told Fox.

Mr. Homan on Monday announced his retirement from ICE, where he’s been serving in the role of director since President Trump took office.

He said Tuesday he’s put off retirement several times — he’s actually had his retirement part in January 2017 when he got a call from then-Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly asking him to stay on — but said he’s now ready to spend more time with his family, make a better salary in the private sector, and be more free to speak his mind.

Mr. Homan also discounted a news report that he was leaving because of tension with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide