Deal would make asy­lum seek­ers wait out­side U.S.

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Nation - BY JOSHUA PART­LOW AND NICK MIROFF Washington Post

MEX­ICO CITY

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has won the sup­port of Mex­ico’s in­com­ing gov­ern­ment for a plan to re­make U.S. bor­der pol­icy by re­quir­ing asy­lum seek­ers to wait in Mex­ico while their claims move through U.S. courts, ac­cord­ing to Mex­i­can of­fi­cials and se­nior mem­bers of pres­i­dent-elect An­drés Manuel López Obrador’s tran­si­tion team.

The agree­ment would break with long-stand­ing asy­lum rules and place a for­mi­da­ble new bar­rier in the path of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants at­tempt­ing to reach the United States and es­cape poverty and vi­o­lence. By reach­ing the ac­cord, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has also over­come Mex­ico’s his­toric ret­i­cence to deepen co­op­er­a­tion with the United States on an is­sue widely seen here as Amer­ica’s prob­lem.

Ac­cord­ing to out­lines of the plan, known as Re­main in Mex­ico, 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.

“For now, we have agreed to this pol­icy of Re­main in Mex­ico,” said Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mex­ico’s in­com­ing in­te­rior min­is­ter, the top do­mes­tic pol­icy of­fi­cial for López Obrador, who takes of­fice Dec. 1. In an in­ter­view with The Washington Post, she called it a “short-term solution.”

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

While no for­mal agree­ment has been signed, and U.S. of­fi­cials cau­tion that many de­tails must still be dis­cussed, the in­com­ing Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment is amenable to the con­cept of turn­ing their coun­try in to a wait­ing room for Amer­ica’s asy­lum sys­tem.

While they re­main anx­ious the deal could fall apart, U.S. of­fi­cials view this as a po­ten­tial break­through that could de­ter mi­gra­tion and the for­ma­tion of ad­di­tional car­a­vans that orig­i­nate in Cen­tral Amer­ica and cross through Mex­ico to reach the United States. They have qui­etly en­gaged in sen­si­tive talks with se­nior Mex­i­can of­fi­cials, at­tempt­ing to of­fer a diplo­matic coun­ter­bal­ance to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s threats and ulti- ma­tums.

Alarmed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­ploy­ment of U.S. mil­i­tary forces to Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Texas, and his threats to close busy bor­der cross­ings, Mex­i­can of­fi­cials are de­ter­mined to take ac­tion af­ter mi­grants trav­el­ing as part of a car­a­van forced their way into Mex­ico last month, push­ing past block­ades at the bor­der with Gu­atemala.

The prospect of keep­ing thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can asy­lum seek­ers for months or years in drug car­tel-dom­i­nated Mex­i­can bor­der states — some of the most vi­o­lent in the coun­try — has trou­bled hu­man-rights ac­tivists and oth­ers who worry that such a plan could put mi­grants at risk and un­der­mine their law­ful right to ap­ply for asy­lum.

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