Mexico’s incoming government has reportedly agreed to back the Trump administration’s plan to change US border policy.
The plans would require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through American courts.
Citing Mexican officials and senior members of president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s transition team, the Washington Post said the agreement would break with long-standing asylum rules and mount a new obstacle to Central American migrants attempting to escape poverty and violence.
Olga Sanchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister and the top domestic policy official for Lopez Obrador who takes office on December 1, told the newspaper the plan known as Remain in Mexico was a “short-term solution.”
“The medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate,” Mr 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.”
Neither the White House or the Department of Homeland Security immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill.
While U.S. officials told The Post they are wary the deal could fall apart, they view it as a breakthrough in negotiations with Mexico that they believe could deter further migration to the southern border.
Human rights advocates have voiced their disapproval of President Trump‘s hardline immigration policies, including the Remain in Mexico plan. They say leaving migrants in Mexican border towns, which have seen intense violence as drug cartels fight each other for smuggling routes into the U.S., are likely to endanger people.
“We have not seen a specific proposal, but any policy that would leave individuals stranded in Mexico would inevitably put people in danger,” Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney whose team has successfully sued the Trump administration over its immigration initiatives, told The Post.
“The Administration ought to concentrate on providing a fair and lawful asylum process in the U.S. rather than inventing more and more ways to try to short-circuit it,” he added.
News of the policy comes days after a federal judge prevented the Trump administration from blocking asylum claims from migrants who do not enter the U.S. legally.
“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar wrote in California.
“Asylum seekers will be put at increased risk of violence and other harms at the border, and many will be deprived of meritorious asylum claims,” he added. “The government offers nothing in support of the new rule that outweighs the need to avoid these harms.”
There was no immediate comment from the White House or Mexico on the deal that the Washington Post said took shape last week in Houston.
It is said to have been agreed during a meeting between Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, and top US officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
President Trump has been seeking to block thousands of Central Americans travelling in caravans from entering the US, and has ordered that immigrants who enter the country illegally from Mexico are ineligible for asylum.
That order has been temporary suspended by a US judge.