Migrant Caravan Members Are Mostly Male, 90 Percent Won’t Qualify for Asylum: Top US Official

November 27, 2018 Updated: November 27, 2018

A top United States official confirmed that the migrant caravan is made up mostly of males and that an overwhelming percentage of them wouldn’t qualify for asylum.

“The caravan members are predominately male,” Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. “It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as ‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement.”

Guatemalan officials previously said when the caravan violently forced its way into Mexico that the caravan used babies, women, and elderly persons as human shields.

Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the department, shared a video clip from an MSNBC correspondent reporting from a caravan camp in Tijuana who said most of the migrants he’s seen are male and wouldn’t seem to qualify for asylum.

Officials have said that at least 75 percent of the caravan are fighting-age males while some reports indicated that many of the migrants who have accepted Mexico’s asylum offers have been women with children.

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A group of Central American migrants climb the border fence between Mexico and the United States as others try to bring it down, near El Chaparral border crossing, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on Nov. 25, 2018. (Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images)

Wouldn’t Qualify for Asylum

Nielsen also noted that most of the caravan members wouldn’t qualify for asylum.

“The overwhelming majority of these individuals are not eligible for asylum in the United States under our laws. Historically, less than 10 percent of those who claim asylum from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are found eligible by a federal judge. 90 percent are not eligible,” Nielsen added.

“Most of these migrants are seeking jobs or to join family who are already in the U.S. They have all refused multiple opportunities to seek protection in Mexico or with the United Nations. Seeking employment or family reunification are not grounds for asylum under our laws, or any international obligation,” she continued.

Only about five percent of Hondurans who applied for asylum in the fiscal year 2016, for instance, were accepted, reported The Epoch Times. Up to 90 percent of those at the border who claim fear of returning to their home country pass an initial “credible fear” screening. Of those who show up at court, only 13 percent are deemed eligible for asylum.

Many of the migrants who have spoken to news agencies have said they’re traveling to the United States for work or to escape gang violence, neither of which fall under asylum requirements.

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Migrants break through the U.S. border fence just beyond the east pedestrian entrance of the San Ysidro crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 25, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

600 Convicted Criminals

As one of President Donald Trump’s top Cabinet members, Nielsen also noted that her department has confirmed that there are over 600 convicted criminals traveling with one of the caravans, including people known for rape, drug crimes, and child abuse. There are 8,500 caravan members currently in Tijuana and Mexicali, with more on their way.

The statement came after clashes between migrants and Border Patrol agents at the border north of Tijuana on Nov. 25 following days of planning. The clashes included migrants hurling projectiles at agents before agents fired tear gas at the crowd, dispersing them.

She pushed back against criticism that Border Patrol agents shouldn’t have used tear gas to defend themselves from attacks.

“I refuse to believe that anyone honestly maintains that attacking law enforcement with rocks and projectiles is acceptable. It is shocking that I have to explain this, but officers can be seriously or fatally injured in such attacks. Self-defense isn’t debatable for most law-abiding Americans,” she said.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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