Migrant caravan set to cross into US this weekend as Trump administration announces plan to 'defend' border

The controversial migrant caravan that drew national outrage as it made its way through Mexico toward the U.S. arrived just south of the California border on Thursday.

The asylum-seeking immigrants began arriving in Tijuana last week. Two more busloads arrived on Tuesday and four more on Wednesday. Several hundred immigrants, mostly women and children, are staying in temporary tents set up for them in a Tijuana shelter. They are expected to start trying to enter the U.S. on Sunday.

Central American migrants traveling with a caravan of Central American migrants wait to be registered at the Viña de Cristo shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The caravan of mainly Central American migrants are planning to request asylum, either in the United States or Mexico. (AP Photo/Hans-Maximo Musielik)

Several hundred immigrants, mostly women and children, are staying in temporary tents set up for them in a Tijuana shelter. They are expected to start trying to enter the U.S. on Sunday.  (AP)

American lawyers were giving the migrants legal advice on how to apply for U.S. asylum.

The caravan incurred the wrath of President Trump, who said it was a disgrace the group could proceed with their journey undeterred – even as it was getting international media exposure. Trump and senior aides have portrayed the caravans and the asylum seekers as evidence of a dysfunctional border and a serious threat.

“Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country,” Trump tweeted. “It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL.”

Despite the president’s condemnation, the caravan proceeded – though it splintered. At its peak, the caravan had 1,500 people. But many split from the group once it began drawing attention.

About 300 people have reached the border in the past two weeks.

Central American migrants traveling with a caravan wait to be registered at the Viña de Cristo shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. The caravan of mainly Central American migrants are planning to request asylum, either in the United States or Mexico. (AP Photo/Hans-Maximo Musielik)

The asylum-seeking immigrants began arriving in Tijuana last week. Two more busloads arrived on Tuesday and four more on Wednesday.  (AP)

It’s not clear how quickly U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will be able to process the asylum applications once the migrants present themselves at the port of entry in San Ysidro.

The caravans have been a fairly common tactic for years among advocacy groups to bring attention to Central American citizens seeking asylum in the U.S. to escape political persecution or criminal threats from gangs.

But the latest one drew more attention because it got Trump's attention from almost the moment it began -- March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border.

Temporary tents for about 130 Central Americans, mostly women and children, who arrived at the U.S. border with Mexico in a "caravan" of asylum-seeking immigrants that has drawn the fury of President Donald Trump, are seen in a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Two busloads arrived late Tuesday, in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, and another 200 were expected to come. Legal workshops are planned later this week and the first large group is expected to try to enter the United States on Sunday at a border crossing in San Diego. in San Diego, Calif. (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat)

Tents have been set up for members of the caravan. Trump and senior aides have portrayed the caravans and the asylum seekers as evidence of a dysfunctional border and a serious threat.  (AP)

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen this week said the border crossers could face prosecution.

“DHS continues to monitor the remnants of the ‘caravan’ of individuals headed to our Southern border with the apparent intention of entering the United States illegally,” Nielsen said in a statement. “A sovereign nation that cannot—or worse, chooses not—to defend its borders will soon cease to be a sovereign nation. The Trump administration is committed to enforcing our immigration laws – whether persons are part of this ‘caravan’ or not.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.