Many plan to seek asylum in the US but may have to wait months because the USA government only processes about 100 of those cases a day at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego.
Officials say agents arrested two caravan members late Thursday on assault charges in separate incidents with Border Patrol agents. Border patrol officials identified Mara Salvatrucha, a young man who was caught entering the US illegally, as a member of MS-13. Over 2,200 migrants in Tijuana are suffering from serious health issues.
The Ramirez arrest reinforces claims by President Donald Trump and DHS officials that hundreds of violent criminals are among the estimated 8,500 migrants in the caravan, the advance elements of which began arriving in Tijuana a week ago.
More than 4,700 migrants are living in tents and under blankets either directly in the shelter or in the surrounding blocks, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I want to wait for asylum, but now I'm thinking I'll arrange my paperwork to stay in Mexico and get a job". "Right now, everyone inside is really sick".
That wait could take months, a fact that has Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum anxious that the caravan's presence is creating both health hazards and a financial crisis for his city. "We won't raise taxes tomorrow to pay for today's problem".
But authorities and residents in Tijuana are concerned the migrants might try to make another mass rush across the border: Their first attempt last weekend led to a brief closure of border crossings that Tijuana residents use to reach jobs and shopping on the USA side.
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Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol's parent agency, referred only two cases to the Justice Department for prosecution and charges were not filed because the accused had medical problems that prevented them from being held in San Diego's detention center, according to the US official. Their first attempt last weekend led to a brief closure of border crossings that Tijuana residents use to reach jobs and shopping on the US side.
Maria Luisa Cáceres, 42, took her 15-year-old special-needs son to the border to try to illegally enter the United States.
Prosecutors said the group was initially compliant, with the exception of the suspect, who at one point stood up as the Border Patrol agent was trying to handcuff him.
"That's not fair. How do you think people from Tijuana feel toward those people who are making problems?"
"Those are the real criminals because they're dealing with the lives of people", he added, referencing the organizer's behind the caravan whom he believes should face criminal charges.