Published : Saturday, November 17, 2018 | 6:21 AM
A diverse group of pastors, seminary professors and other Christian leaders from the Pasadena area announced Friday they plan to travel to Mexico from November 18 to 21 to support the Mexican churches in the Tijuana area to minister to Central American immigrants in a caravan which has been marching towards the U.S. border over the past month.
Hundreds of the migrants are now just across the border from the United States, with as many as 2,000 more expected to reach Tijuana in two days.
The local pastors and religious leaders from led a prayer event Friday to bless the clergy delegation on the steps of the Payton building at Fuller Theological Seminary in downtown Pasadena in anticipation of the journey, said Juan Francisco Martinez, a Fuller professor and one of those organizing the event.
Near Tijuana, Martinez said, the Pasadena group would assist an initial group which was to arrive Saturday or Sunday; the group is composed mostly of women and children, he said.
“We’re assuming a couple of thousand, we don’t have exact numbers yet because people are again in movement,” Martinez said. “And so we’re coordinating with churches and other organizations in Tijuana so that they’d have a place to be housed and that they have the right kind of legal information, so that when they begin the process of asking for a political refugee status they have everything in order, so that as they approach the border, which is the process, they go up across and inform the U.S. border official what their intention is.”
Reports say the initial group of Hondurans in the caravan set out on October 13 from the impoverished and violence-ridden country to make their way north to the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is tracking the caravan, and Trump administration officials have indicated the federal government would send as many as 5,800 troops to the border in anticipation of the caravan’s arrival.
Guatemala has closed its border with Honduras after the initial group of migrants passed, and Mexico has also attempted to restrict entry to several hundreds more migrants trying to cross from Guatemala.
Martinez said their group from Pasadena expect to be on the U.S. side of the border by Saturday and will lead a prayer vigil there on Sunday night.
“We’re inviting people to walk with us as we pray,” Martinez said. “And then Sunday evening, we’ll be praying. And then Monday morning, a group of pastors will join with pastors in Tijuana and provide general support to the families that we anticipate will have arrived by then. We also have lawyers and other professionals who then will be working the individual cases so that people, before they present themselves to U.S. officials, have everything in order.”