NOEL KING, HOST:
All right. Another story on asylum now. Authorities in Tijuana, Mexico, say they've arrested three people accused of murdering two Honduran teenagers. It's believed that the young Hondurans arrived in Tijuana a couple weeks ago, along with thousands of other Central Americans, as part of the so-called migrant caravan. Officials say they were waiting to apply for asylum in the U.S. NPR's Carrie Kahn has this story.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The teens, believed to be 16 and 17 years old, had been staying at a YMCA shelter in Tijuana set up for unaccompanied minors. They were out Saturday night in downtown Tijuana when they were lured into a building by two women, who alerted accomplices. After discovering the kids didn't have any money, the robber strangled and stabbed the two to death, according to officials. A third teen managed to escape.
Baja, Calif., state prosecutor Jorge Alvarez Mendoza says investigators don't believe the teens were targeted because they were migrants.
JORGE ALVAREZ MENDOZA: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: "Nor do we have any information that organized crime was involved," says Alvarez. "We believe that this was just a crime of opportunity," he added.
The death of the teens has drawn criticism from immigrant advocates, who say the slow U.S. asylum process is forcing migrants to wait weeks, even months, in dangerous Mexican cities. U.S. officials process from 40 to a hundred asylum applicants a day at the San Diego Port of Entry. Thousands are currently waiting to apply.
JEN PODKUL: I'm not surprised that this happened. I'm absolutely devastated that it did, but I'm not surprised.
KAHN: Jen Podkul is with KIND, a children's advocacy organization. She was just in Tijuana touring youth shelters. She says minors there are extremely vulnerable to crime, gangs and human trafficking.
PODKUL: It's amazing that two countries, like Mexico and United States, who are well-resourced, who have very protective laws on their books, are completely failing these children.
KAHN: Child Protective officials in Tijuana say there may be as many as several hundred migrant teens in the city waiting to apply for asylum in the U.S. Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.