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Incoming Mexico government denies border deal with US to host asylum-seekers

25 November 2018 20:38

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

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

The Washington Post reported earlier Saturday that the Trump administration had reached a deal with the future Mexican government for a plan dubbed “Remain in Mexico.”

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

The newspaper quoted her as saying that the incoming administration of Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had agreed to allow migrants to stay in Mexico as a “short-term solution” while the US considered their applications for asylum.

The deal was seen as a way to dissuade thousands of Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the US, a process that can take years.

In effect, Mexican border towns are already acting as waiting rooms for migrants hoping to start new lives in the US due to bottlenecks at the border.

Lopez Obrador will take office on December 1.

Migrants to stay outside US under deal with Mexico

President Trump has reportedly struck a deal with Mexico’s incoming president which would make it harder for immigrants to enter the US.

Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, described the Remain in Mexico plan as a strategy to take away the ability of migrants to live and work in the US while cases are processed.

“The hope is that asylum seekers will not want to live in (Mexico) for months/years and won’t come,” Leutert said via Twitter.

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

One variation, called “Safe Third,” would have denied asylum claims on the grounds that asylum seekers had found haven in Mexico. Sanchez said Saturday that the next government does not plan for Mexico to become a “Safe Third” country.

Around 6,000 migrants who have trekked across Mexico in a caravan in recent weeks are now crammed into a baseball field in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum on Friday declared a humanitarian crisis in his border city of 1.6 million, which he says is struggling to accommodate the influx.

Trump has made his hard-line stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency.

The US president has deployed thousands of military troops and National Guards to help border patrol block illegal entry. The military has been given the right to use lethal force if necessary.

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