The Trump Administration has reportedly made a deal with the incoming Mexican government requiring that asylum seekers at the southern border to remain in Mexico while their claims are processedin court.
The Washington Post reported the new border policy Saturday, citing Mexican officials and senior members of Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team.
The plan, called “Remain in Mexico,” emerged after a meeting in Houston last week that included Mexico’s incoming foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and other high ranking U.S. officials, U.S. and Mexican officials told the Post.
Regarding the deal with Mexico, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement:
“President Trump has developed a strong relationship with the incoming Obrador Administration, and we look forward to working with them on a wide range of issues.”
In a statement Thursday, Pompeo said that he, Nielsen and Ebrard had met “to discuss the migrant caravans.”
“We have affirmed our shared commitment to addressing the current challenge,” he said. “The caravans will not be permitted to enter the United States.”
U.S. officials began receiving guidance on “Remain in Mexico” this week and were told it could be implemented soon, the Post reported, but U.S. and Mexican senior officials stressed that elements of the plan had not yet been established and that no formal agreement has yet been signed.
If put into effect, the new policy would end the current practice of asylum seekers remaining in the United States while their applications are processed, disparaged as “catch and release” by President Donald Trump, who is a vocal opponent of the practice.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the currently unsigned agreement strives to control how many migrants are allowed to stay on American territory during the asylum process.
“President Trump has developed a strong relationship with the incoming Obrador Administration, and we look forward to working with them on a wide range of issues,” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News.
U.S. officials told the Post that they hope to pilot the policy at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing before potentially expanding it to five to seven other ports of entry along the southern border.
“For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico,” Olga Sánchez Cordero — López Obrador’s top domestic policy official as Mexico’s interior minister-elect — told the Post, calling it a “short-term solution.”
“The medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate,” Sánchez Cordero also said to the Post. “Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us.”
James McCament, Acting Homeland Security Under Secretary for Policy, said in a statement Saturday that the United States has been working with the current and impending Mexican governments “to identify and address shared issues of concern.”
“These include our joint desire to promote beneficial legitimate trade and travel, interest in ensuring that those traveling to our borders do so safely and orderly, concern for the safety and security of vulnerable migrant populations, and respect for each nation’s sovereignty,” McCament added. “We appreciate the leadership and partnership the Mexican government has shown on these and other challenging issues.”