It was just after 9 p.m. on April 27 when Border Patrol Agent Jamie Renteria spotted a group of 18 people walking north from the fence that marks the international border between the U.S. and Mexico in an area called Goat Canyon.
Within a few minutes, Renteria had arrested all of them — 13 from Honduras, one from Guatemala, one from Mexico and three from India. A few hours earlier a second, smaller group of seven was arrested by another agent not too far away.
The arrests were not unusual for a Friday night at the border. But since the arrests, which came as a a caravan of Central American migrants arrived at the border in Tijuana, a legal battle over some of those who were charged with illegally entering the country has been shaping up in San Diego’s federal court.
At issue is the claim from 11 people facing charges of illegal entry into the U.S., typically a routine misdemeanor charge, that they are being singled out for prosecution by the Justice Department because they are from Central American countries.
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