Mexico's new government agrees to Trump's 'asylum waiting room' plan

Mexico's new government agrees to Trump's 'asylum waiting room' plan

Mexico's new government agrees to Trump's 'asylum waiting room' plan

"For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico", said Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico's incoming interior minister, the top domestic policy official for López Obrador, who takes office December 1.

He confirmed the plan in essence foresaw migrants staying in Mexico while asylum claims are being processed, and said the incoming government wanted to find jobs for them in sectors that are short-staffed, such as maquila assembly plants.

After the White House declined on Saturday to deny a new report saying that President Donald Trump's administration had reached a deal with Mexico that would require asylum-seeking migrants to wait there while their claims are decided by US courts, Mexican officials denied it themselves.

Should such a plan go ahead, it may deter people from attempting to migrate to the US from Central America via Mexico.

The deal appeared to be coming at a time when Trump has set his sights on the latest migrant caravan to travel through Honduras and Guatemala toward the US southern border.

She later appeared to backtrack, telling the Associated Press that "there is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the USA government".

The statement shared with The Associated Press said the future government's principal concern related to the migrants is their well-being while in Mexico.

The Washington Post, citing Mexican officials and senior members of president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador's transition team, reported early Saturday that the Remain in Mexico plan would require asylum applicants to stay in Mexico, therefore ending the "catch-and-release" practice whereby those seeking asylum are allowed to stay in the USA while their claims are being processed. "Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us".

Following the publication of the Post's report, however, Sanchez back-pedaled on those remarks.

White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said: "President Trump has developed a strong relationship with the incoming (Lopez) Obrador Administration, and we look forward to working with them on a wide range of issues".

Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, described the "Remain in Mexico" plan as a strategy to take away the ability of migrants to live and work in the USA while cases are processed.

Gastélum said on Friday that he'd asked the United Nations for aid to help with the influx of asylum seekers.

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The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the Trump administration has won support from the Mexican president-elect's team for a plan dubbed "Remain in Mexico".

If Mexico were to assume "safe third country" status, asylum seekers would be required to claim refugee status in Mexico rather than the United States. Close to 3,000 migrants took Mexico up on the offer.

But, Sanchez said on Saturday that the next government does not plan for Mexico to become a "Safe Third" country.

Thousands of Central Americans who have trekked through Mexico arrived in recent days to the border town of Tijuana, hoping to cross into the US.

Trump threatened Thursday to shut down the border crossing entirely if his administration determines that Mexico has lost "control" of the situation in Tijuana.

Asylum seekers will submit their application on the US-Mexico border, at an official entry point, and then turn back to wait in Mexico while the US authorities evaluate their claim. "They will also give us dates, on what terms they will receive the [asylum] requests and in the case that they are not beneficiaries of this status, they will have to return here", Vences said.

She said Mexico needs to examine how to accommodate the migrants without angering locals.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in California halted the Trump administration's latest attempt to seal the USA southern border by barring migrants from seeking asylum inside the country.

It will seek to end, for asylum seekers, the USA policy of "catch and release" - whereby migrants and asylum seekers caught crossing the border illegally are detained, registered, and then freed.

President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that the migrant caravan is formed by Central American countries as a means of expelling "certain people" and "dumping" them in the United States.

He insists that the United States will only accept those who enter the country legally.

Without confirming the deal, James McCament, Homeland Security's Acting Under Secretary for Policy, said the USA government has been working since the Mexican elections with its current and incoming Mexican counterparts on trade, border policy and other issues.

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