Mex­ico backs Trump’s plan to over­haul asy­lum rules -Wash­ing­ton Post

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON, (Reuters) - Mex­ico’s in­com­ing govern­ment has agreed to back the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan to change U.S. bor­der pol­icy by re­quir­ing asy­lum seek­ers to wait in Mex­ico while their claims move through U.S. courts, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported yes­ter­day.

Cit­ing Mex­i­can of­fi­cials and se­nior mem­bers of pres­i­den­t­elect An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s tran­si­tion team, the news­pa­per said the agree­ment would break with long-stand­ing asy­lum rules and mount a new ob­sta­cle to Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants at­tempt­ing to reach the United States and es­cape poverty and vi­o­lence.

Reached for com­ment by Reuters, in­com­ing deputy in­te­rior min­is­ter Zoe Robledo said de­tails of the “Re­main in Mex­ico” scheme were still be­ing worked out.

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.

“What we’re aim­ing for is that peo­ple leav­ing their coun­tries due to se­cu­rity is­sues or vi­o­lence can find a place to stay in Mex­ico if that is their de­ci­sion,” Robledo said.

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 U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and the Cana­dian govern­ment will agree to help spur eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion.

Out­go­ing Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto has also sought to stem the flow of mi­grants north by of­fer­ing jobs to them, and has re­ceived back­ing from the pri­vate sec­tor in his ef­forts.

Olga Sanchez Cordero, Mex­ico’s in­com­ing in­te­rior min­is­ter and the top do­mes­tic pol­icy of­fi­cial for Lopez Obrador, who takes of­fice Dec. 1, told the Wash­ing­ton Post the plan, known as Re­main in Mex­ico, was a “short-term so­lu­tion.”

“The medium- and long-term so­lu­tion is that peo­ple don’t mi­grate,” Sanchez Cordero said. “Mex­ico has open arms and ev­ery­thing, but imag­ine, one car­a­van after an­other after an­other, that would also be a prob­lem for us.”

The pa­per said that ac­cord­ing to the out­lines of the plan, asy­lum ap­pli­cants at the bor­der will have to stay in Mex­ico while their cases are pro­cessed, po­ten­tially end­ing the sys­tem Trump decries as “catch and re­lease” that has un­til now gen­er­ally al­lowed those seek­ing refuge to wait on safer U.S. soil.

Ali­son Leal Parker, U.S. man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for Hu­man Rights Watch, a New York-based rights organization, said the pol­icy was “a pa­thetic at­tempt by the United States to shirk re­spon­si­bil­ity. Cen­tral Amer­i­cans have faced se­ri­ous harm in Mex­ico.”

The ef­fect, Parker said, would likely “push peo­ple flee­ing for lives into riskier at­tempts to find safety, in­clud­ing us­ing crim­i­nal hu­man smug­glers who will gain power un­der this new pol­icy.”

There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from the White House on the deal that the Wash­ing­ton Post said took shape last week in Hous­ton dur­ing a meet­ing be­tween Marcelo Ebrard, Mex­ico’s in­com­ing for­eign min­is­ter, and top U.S. of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen.

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

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the lead­er­ship and part­ner­ship the Mex­i­can govern­ment has shown,” McCa­ment said.

An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador

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