The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will force asylum seekers – not Mexicans – on the border to return to Mexico and wait in that country while their petitions are processed, which can take months or years.
The plan, one of the most significant changes in US policy in decades, was labeled by activists as “a betrayal of Mexico” to international migratory treaties.
‘Mexican government will do dirty work for Washington’
The Government of Mexico justified this support as the granting of humanitarian and work visas to undocumented immigrants, mostly Central Americans.
DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen detailed the measures in a meeting with the Judicial Committee of Congress. The policy will take effect in a few days.
“The United States washes its hands of responsibility, the Mexican government is accepting the dirty work of the United States and will have refugee camps in Mexican territory,” said Fernando García, director of the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR).
“Because of the Mexican immigration law, Mexico can not receive anyone who is not Mexican,” he added. “I think that the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador is skipping the law.”
“Absolutely disgusting that the United States and Mexico are willing to implement a policy to send potential asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for judicial processes that last for many years and are carried out in the United States,” he said through his page The Solidarity Committee for Detained Migrants, one of the associations in the legal service of the migrant community.
Along with a mosaic of immigrant detention centers that house some 50,000 vulnerable people, this plan turns Mexico into a huge outdoor prison camp, he added.
The new policy will surely face a series of legal battles. Currently, federal courts have already blocked Donald Trump decrees to increase border controls. The Washington Post calls the agreement with Mexico a significant “diplomatic victory”; the pact began to take shape before López Obrador took office.
So far, when someone shows up at a border post in the United States or is stopped after crossing irregularly, he goes to an internment center where there is the first review of his case. The police determine if the situation of vulnerability is credible. If it is, that person ends up being released, monitored or not, with an order to appear in court.
The new rules will apply to migrants who ask for humanitarian aid and protection at border ports – such as international bridges – and those who illegally entered the United States. The measures seek to “put under control” the flow of Central American migrants: at present, there are more than 750 thousand pending cases of asylum in federal courts.
“Foreigners try to circumvent the system when entering the country; they will no longer be lost in the United States, where they do not attend their Court appointments, “Nielsen said. “Now they are going to wait for a decision of the Court in Mexico.”
They warn attack
The congressman and president-elect of the Hispanic caucus of the Congress, Joaquín Castro, declared that this move is the biggest attack of the Trump administration to date.
“It is an attack on the most vulnerable populations that come to the United States, legally ask for asylum in search of a better life. The decision to make migrants wait in Mexico while they process asylum applications only continues with the cruel policies of this administration to stop legal immigration to our nation, “he said.
He added that the mechanics of how this policy will be implemented, its legal justification and the level of humanitarian assistance provided to those who are forced to wait in Mexico, continues without any response, revealing that there are no plans established by both governments.
He noted that although he has been in contact with the Mexican Embassy in the United States to understand the role of the Mexican government in this policy, there are still no clear accounts.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico said yesterday that the humanitarian measure would be adopted temporarily. The decision is historic for Mexico, a country that has so far refused to accept the return of any migrant who is not Mexican.
The Department of Homeland Security has “the intention of implementing a section of its immigration law that would allow foreigners, not Mexicans, to return to our country to await the development of their immigration process here,” the Mexican agency added.
To return them
According to the head of DHS, the Trump administration has been trying to put an end to the practice known as “catch and release,” which consists of releasing certain migrants who are detained on entering the country, when they enter undocumented to wait in freedom their asylum application migration process.
Now, this will be replaced by “capture and return,” Secretary Nielsen said in writing.
“By doing so, we will reduce illegal migration by eliminating one of the key incentives that encourage people to take the dangerous trip to the United States and also allow us to focus more attention on those who are actually fleeing persecution,” the statement said. .
Where is Mexico?
Mexico, for its part, confirmed the agreement and indicated that it will authorize, for humanitarian reasons and temporarily, the entry of certain foreigners from the United States who have entered that country through a port of entry or who have been apprehended in places between the ports of entry.
It is expected that this will significantly impact the border cities, including Ciudad Juárez, not only in the population sector but also on the economic side, local authorities have indicated.
According to US Customs and Border Protection statistics, more than 100 thousand immigrants were captured crossing the border in October and November, and almost half of them traveled in family groups that included children.
Source: Sabrina Zuniga, El Diario of El Paso
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