RPT: FEATURE - Migrants Spend Months To Reach US Border, Many Unaware Of Trump Security Escalation

CIUDAD JUAREZ (MEXICO) (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 03rd November, 2018) More than a hundred asylum-seeking migrants were huddled in blankets on a cold night on the Mexico side of the Paso del Norte International Bridge, just steps away from the Texas city of El Paso.

Most arrived at the US border after journeys that lasted months - even years - coming from Central and South American countries stretching from Guatemala and Cuba to as far south as Argentina.

The group on the bridge arrived as a US-bound migrant caravan from Central America has drawn the wrath of US President Donald Trump who deployed thousands of troops to protect the southern border. In a press conference on Thursday, Trump called on the caravan to turn back. The intense rhetoric over immigration comes just ahead of the November 6 US midterm elections.

The migrants interviewed requested anonymity to avoid jeopardizing their applications for asylum and quashing their hopes of starting a new life in the United States.

One Cuban immigrant told Sputnik that he finally arrived at the US border after a two-year journey.

"We came looking for political asylum," he said. "We have political problems in our country. We don't have democracy, no freedom of expression. We're deprived by the regime through police force."

The man said he traveled through Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

"I'm nervous, but happy because finally we're here," the man said. "It's still not complete, but we've arrived to where we are just one step away to our goal."

Just a couple of steps away were three American immigration officials armed with long rifles standing on the US side of the bridge. These US immigration officials usually only have sidearms.

"I haven't seen much of what's going on in the news because we've been traveling," the man from Cuba said when asked about Trump's immigration policies. "I've heard some stuff, but I guess everyone puts in their own laws. Having control of immigration would be a good thing."

Martin, a volunteer with the Mexican Red Cross, told Sputnik there were about 140 immigrants waiting on the Mexican side of the international bridge waiting for their turn to enter the United States to apply for asylum. Among the group were children and pregnant women, he added.

The immigrants camped outside on the bridge came from Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and other countries, he said.

"I believe US authorities should support the immigrants," Martin said. "They come from other countries with poverty that lack basic needs. They're treated badly."

Martin added that several of the immigrants arriving to the border had respiratory infections and needed antibiotics in addition to hot water, soap and other sanitary items.

Another Cuban immigrant seeking political asylum told Sputnik his journey took nine months to reach the US border.

"In Cuba, it's the police," he said when asked of what dangers he's fleeing. "If I went back to Cuba at this moment they'd put me in jail and in jail it's very difficult. It's possible they could kill you."

When asked if Trump's immigration policies could deter immigrants from coming to the United States, he said the issue is complicated. However, he did support the notion that these immigration groups such as the caravan do have bad people.

"A lot of people infiltrate those groups... of course," he said when asked if he thinks bad people are in the caravan. "There are people from all over the world, good and bad."

A man from Guatemala was bundled up with his family of four as they waited in the long line on the bridge.

"There isn't a lot of work for us where we're from," the man told Sputnik. "That's why we came here suddenly. Hopefully there's an opportunity to come into the United States and look for work because over there in Guatemala the wages are low and it's not enough to sustain ourselves. We came looking to see where we can sustain a family."

The family took a month-long journey to arrive to the US border, he said. He added that they didn't come to bother any people in the United States, but only to find a way to make a living.

"The journey is always a risk, it's a fight and a risk to your life, but you need to do what you can even if it's painful," the man said. "Here we are. We never thought we'd be here... we came out of necessity."

The Guatemalan man along with the others camped at the bridge have no certainties their efforts will be fruitful.

"Let's see if they let us in, we'll see what God has planned," the man said. "We'll see if by tomorrow we'll be closer to getting inside."

Mexican officials said the caravan making its way towards the US border has around 3,600 migrants while the UN put the number at more than 7,000. Trump has said the caravan includes criminals and unknown middle Easterners.

The Trump administration has said the United States must strengthen its borders and stem the flow of illegal immigration to protect US security interests.