Members of Migrant Caravan ‘Marrying’ at U.S. Border Before Seeking Asylum

Border protest (Guillermo Arias / AFP / Getty)
Guillermo Arias / AFP / Getty

Migrants associated with a “Central American Caravan” showed up at the United States border Sunday reportedly seeking asylum from gang violence, but many decided to “tie the knot” upon hearing news from their legal counsel that they may face separation when entering the U.S.

Several migrant couples who showed up at the border between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California, married each other Sunday morning in a small ceremony presided over by a Chicago pastor with “monarch butterfly wings.”

The couples tied the knot before reportedly presenting themselves to United States authorities at the San Ysidro point of entry Sunday after legal counsel for the migrants informed them they could be separated from their children and detained for months.

But these “marriages” might not work for these migrants because U.S. immigration courts require substantial proof to prove that a marriage is real. When migrants typically apply for asylum, immigration authorities require proof beyond a ceremony and a marriage certificate that the couple married intending to start a life together.

Under U.S. immigration law, if authorities suspect a couple recently married to obtain a green card or for the purposes of immigration into the United States, the marriage is considered fraudulent and can be disregarded by immigration courts when deciding to allow foreigners into the United States.

While some members of the caravan reportedly planned to apply for asylum, others tried to enter the United States by “climbing” over a run-down border fence on Friday and Saturday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott warned in a statement Saturday: “If anyone has encouraged you to illegally enter the United States, or make any false statements to U.S. government officials, they are giving you bad advice and they are placing you and your family at risk.

“We are a very welcoming country but just like your own house, we expect everyone to enter through our front door, and answer questions honestly.  On a national level that front door is the Ports of Entry.   If you enter the United States at any place other than a Port of Entry it is a crime. You will be arrested and referred for prosecution.”

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