Migrants wait at US border with numbers written on their arms

Marking of asylum seekers, which recalls Nazi practice of tattooing prisoner numbers, is reportedly now part of the process at port of entry into the US

Wilson Romero, left, and Daniel Montes, both from Honduras, arrive at a bus terminal early  June 27, 2018, in El Paso, Texas (AP Photo/Matt York)
Wilson Romero, left, and Daniel Montes, both from Honduras, arrive at a bus terminal early June 27, 2018, in El Paso, Texas (AP Photo/Matt York)

Migrants waiting in Mexico to have their asylum claims processed at the US border are reportedly being given numbers, which are written on their arms with permanent marker.

The migrants were spotted with the numbers while waiting to be questioned by Grupos Beta, the humanitarian branch of Mexico’s federal immigration agency, Yahoo News reported Friday.

Accounts were said to vary on who started the practice and when, but it is now said to be part of the process for anyone wishing to claim asylum at the El Paso port of entry into the United States. Children were not exempt from the practice.

Nazis tattooed prisoner numbers onto the arms of those held in camps during World War II.

Thousands of migrants, mostly Hondurans, have joined caravans in recent weeks in an effort to speed across Mexico to request refuge at the US border.

Trump administration officials vowed Friday to address some of the issues that forced them to decide against criminally prosecuting any of the 42 members of a Central American migrant caravan arrested last weekend after crossing the US-Mexico border illegally during a chaotic clash with Border Patrol agents.

Immigration officials often deport people who cross illegally instead of prosecuting them for the federal crime of illegal entry because of “resource constraints, statutory roadblocks and process limitations,” Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman said. Some of those “roadblocks” include that children cannot be separated from their parents.

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Israeli Holocaust survivor Asher Aud (Sieradski), 86, originally from Poland, shows his number tattooed on his arm by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp as he poses for a portrait in Jerusalem. (photo credit: AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The caravan’s size is highly unusual — there are more than 6,000 people waiting at the border with Tijuana, Mexico, and the Trump administration has conveyed an image of the group as rife with criminals.

But critics insist the violence is being exaggerated to stoke fears and push political agendas, and say most of the people coming are fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. They point to images of crying, barefoot children running from clouds of tear gas after Sunday’s clash as proof of the administration’s inhumane treatment.

US authorities say assailants threw a “hail of rocks” at Border Patrol agents in the Sunday chaos that erupted during a protest against US asylum laws, striking four who escaped serious injury. That prompted Border Patrol agents to launch tear gas and pepper spray balls to quell the unrest in the crowd that included small children in diapers.

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