Mexico may be backing out of deal to host asylum seekers


Immigrants seeking asylum in the United States by entering through Mexico could be required to wait south of the border while US courts assess their cases, a member of the incoming Mexican government said in an interview published Saturday.

Julieta Vences, a congresswoman with Lopez Obrador's Morena party who is also president of Mexico's congressional migrant affairs commission, told the AP that incoming Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has been discussing with us officials how to handle a deluge of asylum claims at the border.

Their comments came on the back of a report in The Washington Post, which claimed Mexico and the U.S. had agreed on a deal named Remain in Mexico.

Jenna Gilbert, managing attorney for the Los Angeles office of Human Rights First, a legal rights organization, said Trump's plan is "outright illegal, and I'm sure the administration will once more see itself in court".

The Trump administration has long sought such an accord with Mexico as a means of resolving what it has termed a "crisis" of an escalating number of Central American asylum applicants - and limited detention space in which to hold them on USA territory as their petitions are considered.

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But Mexico's incoming interior minister Olga Sanchez Cordero said there was "no agreement of any type between the future government of Mexico and the United States". The judge prevented the government from restricting asylum applications to those made at official ports of entry, although the Justice Department will likely appeal the order.

"Would be very SMART if Mexico would stop the Caravans long before they get to our Southern Border, or if originating countries would not let them form", he wrote, claiming, without evidence, that "it is a way they get certain people out of their country and dump in U.S. No longer". But she told Reuters that plans to assume "safe third country" status were "ruled out".

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Cesar Elvir, 20, from Honduras, and his one-year-old cousin, Ahslyn, part of a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America trying to reach the United States, rest in temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, November 24, 2018. Under such a plan, Central Americans seeking asylum would generally have to file for protection in Mexico, not in the United States.

Asylum seekers will be given an initial screening to determine whether they face imminent danger by staying in Mexico, where violence is widespread.

Around 3,000 have taken up an offer, offered by Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, of asylum and the right to work on the condition they remain in southern Mexico.

But by early evening, the picture grew more complex, as the incoming Mexican government said there was "no agreement of any sort".

Lopez Obrador has vowed to try to eliminate the causes of migration by creating more jobs and improving living conditions in Mexico and Central America.

In exchange, he hopes Mr Trump and the Canadian government will agree to help spur economic development in the region.