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Former top border official predicts what to expect when caravan arrives

Salvadoran migrants cross the Suchiate river, the border between Guatemala and Mexico, on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. A new group of Central American migrants has started on its way North with the stated purpose to make to the United States. The third caravan tried to cross the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico, but Mexican authorities told them they would have to show passports and visas and enter in groups of 50 for processing. The Salvadorans expressed misgivings that they would be deported, so they turned around and waded across a shallow stretch of the river to enter Mexico. (AP Photo/Oscar Rivera)

The caravan of migrants marching toward the United States has reached Mexico City. Many are being housed at a stadium there as three smaller caravans have formed behind them.

News 4’s Jaie Avila interviewed the homeland security commander who up until recently oversaw the entire Southwestern border about what to expect when the caravan arrives.

"The potential is there for it to be very chaotic," says Paul Beeson, who just retired in July as Director of Homeland Security's Joint Task Force West. He oversaw the Southern border from Texas to California. Based on his 33 years in border protection, he has a pretty good idea what preparations are underway.

“Hardening the points of entry if you will, making sure the facilities, fencing, things like that are stronger so that you don't see happen here what happened down at the Guatemala / Mexico border."

The largest caravan is still near Mexico City, hundreds of miles south of the border with Texas.

Beeson says U.S. officials will closely track them as they head north to see if they remain grouped together or fan out to different areas along the border. He does not anticipate any violent clashes.

"These folks are very well trained. They are professional. I believe they will handle situations appropriately, professionally and with the right amount of concern for the folks they are encountering," Beeson says.

There's been much debate about whether the caravans consist mostly of families with children or if there are a large number of individuals with criminal backgrounds. Beeson doesn't speculate about that.

"But what we are dealing with are people who are coming up here to join family members or seek better employment opportunities, neither of which are reasons for asylum," Beeson says.

For that reason, Beeson believes the vast majority of migrants will be turned away at the border.

If allowed in the country he does not think many would show up for their asylum hearings.

“What typically happens when they are released is we never see them again they disappear off into the U.S."

Beeson believes the caravans will keep coming until congress puts an end to the so-called "catch and release" system.

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