Washington (AFP) – The Trump administration has reached a deal with Mexico’s incoming government under which asylum seekers will wait in Mexico while their claims are assessed by US courts, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The deal, which would overhaul US border policy, comes with President Donald Trump outraged over the presence of thousands of Central American migrants who marched to the Mexican side of the border hoping to enter the US for a better life free from the poverty and gang violence in their homelands.
“For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico,” the Post quoted Olga Sanchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister, as saying.
It would be a “short-term solution,” said Sanchez Cordero, a member of new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration. He will take office on December 1.
“The medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate,” Sanchez Cordero said.
No formal agreement has been signed, the Post said, but US officials view the deal as a potential breakthrough in deterring migration.
US asylum officers will begin implementing the new procedures in coming days or weeks, Homeland Security officials cited by the Post said.
Asylum seekers will be given an initial screening to determine whether they face imminent danger by staying in Mexico, where violence is widespread.
The US officials will be able to process at least twice as many asylum claims under the new system because they would not be limited by detention space at US ports of entry, the report said.
It added that under the new rules, an applicant whose asylum claim is denied would not be allowed to return to Mexico but would remain in US custody pending immediate deportation to his or her home country.
The deal took shape last week in Houston during a meeting between Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, and US officials including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Post said.