MEX­ICO MI­GRANT DEAL DE­NIED

In­com­ing gov­ern­ment re­jects re­port it will al­low asy­lum-seek­ers to stay pend­ing ap­pli­ca­tions

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - NATION/WORLD - BY AMY GUTHRIE

MEX­ICO CITY — Mex­ico’s in­com­ing gov­ern­ment de­nied a re­port Satur­day that it plans to al­low asy­lum-seek­ers to wait in the coun­try while their claims move through U.S. immigration courts, one of sev­eral op­tions the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been pur­su­ing in ne­go­ti­a­tions for months.

“There is no agree­ment of any sort be­tween the in­com­ing Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment and the U.S. gov­ern­ment,” fu­ture In­te­rior Min­is­ter Olga Sanchez said in a state­ment.

Hours ear­lier, The Wash­ing­ton Post quoted her as say­ing that the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador had agreed to al­low mi­grants to stay in Mex­ico as a “short-term so­lu­tion” while the U.S. con­sid­ered their ap­pli­ca­tions for asy­lum. Lopez Obrador will take of­fice on Dec. 1.

The state­ment shared with The As­so­ci­ated Press said the fu­ture gov­ern­ment’s prin­ci­pal con­cern re­lated to the mi­grants is their well­be­ing while in Mex­ico. Sanchez said the gov­ern­ment does not plan for Mex­ico to be­come a “third safe coun­try.”

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Satur­day that the ad­min­is­tra­tion of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has won sup­port from the Mex­i­can pres­i­dent-elect’s team for a plan dubbed “Re­main in Mex­ico.”

The news­pa­per also quoted Sanchez as say­ing: “For now, we have agreed to this pol­icy of Re­main in Mex­ico.”

Sanchez did not ex­plain in the state­ment why The Wash­ing­ton Post had quoted her as say­ing there had been agree­ment.

The White House did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

U.S. of­fi­cials have said for months that they were work­ing with Mex­ico to find so­lu­tions for what they have called a bor­der cri­sis.

Ap­prox­i­mately 5,000 Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants have ar­rived in re­cent days to Ti­juana, just south of Cal­i­for­nia, af­ter mak­ing their way through Mex­ico via car­a­van.

Ti­juana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Fri­day de­clared a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in his bor­der city, which is strug­gling to ac­com­mo­date the in­flux. Most of the mi­grants are camped in­side a sports com­plex, where they face long wait times for food and bath­rooms.

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 U.S. of­fi­cials how to han­dle a del­uge of asy­lum claims at the bor­der.

“They’re go­ing to have to open the bor­ders [for the mi­grants] to put in the re­quest,” Vences said. “They will also give us dates, on what terms they will re­ceive the [asy­lum] re­quests and in the case that they are not ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this sta­tus, they will have to re­turn here,” Vences said.

PE­DRO PARDO/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants, mostly from Hon­duras, are shown Satur­day at a shel­ter in Ti­juana, Mex­ico.

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