doUS immigrants approaching the US-Mexican border crossing areas in recent days to apply for asylum get a taste of what can be ahead of the human "caravans" still hundreds of miles to the south as Donald Trump hardens further immigration policies and rhetoric.
A regular scene in El Paso, Texas, finds US border guards with weapons in their bays, usually monitoring immigrants crossing a bridge from Mexico to the port of entry to the US side. But earlier this week, individuals and small groups, including parents and children, found the agents with rifles, blocking their path and turning them back in the middle of the bridge.
Last Sunday, the border was temporarily closed, while Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials conducted drills to prepare for the kind of interruption the president threatened if migratory caravans hit the southern border. And many thousands of active US troops are making their way across borders in armored vehicles.
Meanwhile, a man and his son who stopped halfway across the bridge linking Mexico's Ciudad Juárez to El Paso, Texas, spoke with the Guardian, but they feared to give their names.
"I spent two days here on the bridge, and when we arrived we were told to wait, but they did not give us any information as to how long we would have to wait," said the father, and he and his teenager left the gang in their hometown in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, seven months ago, he said.
The couple sat with a handful of others waiting for information, leaning against the wall of the path that approached the bridge. Volunteers from the solitary sanctuary shelter in Ciudad Juárez, Casa del Migrante and other samaritans on both sides of the border brought sandwiches, blankets and fresh clothes.
They may struggle for the odds, but as the Trump government prepares to fight with the immigrants, it may literally be the US aid groups ready to go along with the authorities to protect the right of citizens to hear their affairs.
"According to international law and US law, anyone claiming fear of persecution in their country of origin has the right to seek asylum," said Robert Painter, pro bono and communications director at American Gateways, a nonprofit center A Texas organization providing legal services to migrants.
He added: "We expect the Department of Homeland Security to honor this right and ensure that all asylum seekers are put in a fair trial."
The power to grant asylum lies with American immigrant judges.
He fears that the administration is trying to downgrade the only legitimate way for migrants to make asylum claims, as Trababa has made it clear that he does not want to hear the stories of immigrants, but threatens to reduce aid to Central America, border and develop up to 15,000 soldiers, according to the latest report.
"We are seeing this idea of sending troops to the border as another attempt by the Trump administration to build a crisis where there is no one," said Shaw Drake at the Civil Liberties Freedom Center (ACLU) ) in El Paso. "We [already] to have abundant law enforcement at our borders. Immigrants certainly are not a threat to anyone, much less a threat that requires troops to settle in the backyards of border communities. "
National Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last week that troops did not intend to shoot migrants "now." But lawyers are worried.
"My biggest fear is that US government officials will bring more violence and pain to families who have done nothing wrong – they just sought security and freedom in the United States," said Conchita Cruz, co-founder of Project Advocacy Seekers Advocacy.
The Department of Homeland Security did not answer a question about how federal officials are being prepared to handle any large groups of migrants approaching the border.
According to a report in the New York Times, the administration is considering many options, including a renewed version of the controversial family separation policy that would make parents enter the US with their children to choose between resigning minors to take care or imprison family and waiving their children's right to restrict their detention to 20 days.
The government is also weighing in on stricter rules on asylum, speeding up expulsions and extending the use of GPS ankle monitors for those who have a court date.
And he looks at the temporary ban on the entry of all migrants from the Central American region to the US, relying on national security, according to the New York Times report, a move advocated by defense groups and migrant rights will be immediately challenged in court.
"This is a straightforward ban on Latins," said Jess Morales Rocketto, chairman of the Families support group Belong Together, adding: "The Trump administration and the democratic party have become the party of cruelty to families … This is in contradiction with our values Americans. "
According to CBP data, in the financial year 2018, about 520,000 undocumented migrants were arrested by CBP. The average number of annual arrests from 2000 to 2018 is about 741,000, 30% more than this year. ACLU's Drake said DHS now has a "much larger" budget and a number of immigration officers than at the time the arrests were double or triple at current levels.
In April, another caravan of immigrants started from Central America to the port of San Diego and Calexico in California. Especially allowed to enter and seek asylum, but after that, Trump collapsed, with controversial policies of zero tolerance and family separation.
With the average elections a few days away and Trump wants to turn the national conversation away from domestic terrorism and anti-Semitic mass shooting, Drake said: "There is no doubt that they see this as an opportunity to revive and restore some of tougher policies have been implemented, "adding:" The US is fully capable of processing and accepting migrants. our reaction will tell us more about who we are and who we want to be. " ACLU will resort to judicial challenges whenever necessary, he said.
Although the current caravan remains far from the border, over 70 immigrants from Guatemala and Cuba seeking asylum have recently arrived at the Santa Fe International Bridge, which connects the center of Ciudad Juárez with El Paso.
The father and son of Guatemala and small clusters of other migrants are waiting in the corridor. Most who were willing to talk ignored that the largest caravan was located south. They know hostility from the American leadership, but they say they are being driven to make the dangerous trip to the US.
"If I stayed in Guatemala, we would have run out of money and we had nothing to eat," said another man who was traveling with his wife and two children. "I want to come to work. We are not bad people. "
An immigrant on the Cuba bridge escaped the oppression of the Castro regime, he said.
He felt sure he would pass the asylum test for "trustworthy fear" because some friends and his family are political prisoners in Cuba.
While crossing Mexico's Chiapas area two weeks ago, he saw the migratory caravan from Central America. Instead of putting it right, she rushed forward, hoping to be accepted before any possible border closure, she said.
A representative of CBP said the organization was watching the caravan.
We did – and we will continue to do – the necessary preparation. Whatever the operational unforeseen things we can face, we know this: we will ensure border security – we will not allow a large group to illegally enter the US, higher principles of law enforcement and we will address the intent of immigrants in all seasons. "
Drake valued Trump's election tactics. "The US is a beacon of hope and this administration is dragging us into the pit of anger and fear," he said.