Asylum seekers will be forced to wait in Mexico

People line up to cross into the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego

People line up to cross into the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego

"Catch and release" will be replaced with 'catch and return, '" said Nielsen.

Immigration advocates fear Mexico is not safe for asylum seekers and migrants who are regularly kidnapped by criminal gangs and smugglers, and have raised concerns that applicants will not be able to access proper legal counsel to represent them in U.S. courts. "But it's a blatant rejection of current law".

Mexican officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

In an interview on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco said Mexico can not accept the return of migrants who are "in danger". His first concern, he said, was about the humanitarian situation.

"Shelters are at capacity and we can't receive migrants that are being deported or [Mexican] nationals that are passing through the city".

A group of people wait to cross the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry bridge to turn themselves in to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel for asylum consideration on January 13, 2019 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Migrant shelters in a northern Mexican border city are overflowing with people as they cope for the influx of USA asylum seekers set to be returned to the city from the United States, say activists and local shelter officials. In its statement, Homeland Security contends that the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes them to carry out the action.

A US official says the Trump administration will force asylum seekers in San Diego to wait in Mexico starting as soon as Friday while their cases wind through USA courts.

Now, the US government says migrants will be turned away with a "notice to appear" in immigration court.

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A Central American migrant traveling in a caravan looks on at El Barretal temporary shelter on the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on January 22, 2019. In fiscal 2018, 107,000 migrant family members were taken into custody by USA border security officials, surpassing a record set in 2016.

The migrant caravans that have travelled from Central America over the past year have seen U.S. President Donald Trump mobilize the U.S. military to beef up border security, while customs officials have restricted the number of asylum applications accepted per day at ports of entry, a tactic called metering.

Currently, migrants requesting asylum can avoid immediate deportation by establishing that their lives would be endangered if they were returned to their home countries.

A backlog of more than 800,000 asylum cases is pending in immigration courts, Reuters says.

Under the new measures, if asylum seekers do not fear persecution in Mexico, then they must stay there while their cases are processed. The plan, coming out of talks with Mexican officials, is to bus asylum-seekers back and forth from Tijuana, Mexico, to a courthouse in downtown San Diego.

Migrants will have to wait in Tijuana, which is already crowding with people seeking asylum, and where conditions are already deteriorating as people sleep in makeshift encampments with little shelter. The port has experienced disruptions in recent months as migrants forced to wait in Tijuana have grown impatient and rushed the border. Other major changes have been blocked in court, including a ban on seeking asylum by people who cross the border illegally from Mexico and dismissing domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum.

"We are going to accept certain people, with a notification to appear before a court in the United States".

Sieff reported from El Salvador.

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