U.S. Border Patrol Arrests 32 at Demonstration Supporting Asylum Seekers
Kneeling in front of riot police, 32 religious leaders and activists, some wearing T-shirts reading, “Love Knows No Borders”, were arrested during a protest to support the Central American migrant caravan that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico on Monday.
Many leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities – over 400 demonstrators in total – sought a halt to the detention and deportation of migrants and for the U.S. to welcome the caravan that arrived in Tijuana, Mexico in November to seek asylum.
“As a Quaker who believes in our shared humanity...we’re calling on the U.S. to respect the rights of migrants,” said Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee, which has run a week of actions to back migrants.
A photographer for the Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.”
“Singing and praying, religious leaders moved forward in lines of four to six. They were handcuffed and led away by federal agents upon entering a restricted area in front of the fence,” the Star reported.
“Showing up to welcome and bless children, mothers and fathers seeking asylum from very difficult and dehumanizing circumstances is the right and humane thing to do,” said Bishop Minerva G. Carcano, from the San Francisco Area United Methodist Church. “How we act in these moments determines who we will become as a nation.”
Border patrol spokesman Eduardo Olmos said 31 people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing by the Federal Protective service and one was arrested by the border patrol for assaulting an agent. However, the American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said “they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.”
The rally held on a beach divided by the border wall marked the second confrontation for Border Patrol agents since a caravan of more than 6,000 migrants, predominantly Hondurans, reached Tijuana last month. A confrontation with rock-throwers from Mexico led to U.S. agents firing tear gas into Mexico on Nov. 25 and a five-hour closure of the nation’s busiest border crossing.
The demonstration Monday was meant to launch a national week of action called “Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice,” which falls between Human Rights Day on Monday, and International Migrants’ Day on Dec. 18, the group said.
“The group also is calling on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection,” the NYT reports.
Data released on Monday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) showed asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border rose 67% in the 2018 fiscal year from a year earlier.