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US Has Deal to Make Asylum Seekers Wait in Mexico, Report Says - Bloomberg

BloombergUS Has Deal to Make Asylum Seekers Wait in Mexico, Report SaysBloombergAn official at Mexico's Foreign Ministry declined to comment to Bloomberg. Trump said on Twitter late Saturday that migrants at the border wouldn't be allowed into the U.S. until their claims were heard in court, threatening to close the country's ...et plus encore »

Photographer: Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg

Asylum seekers in Mexico will be required to wait until their claims move through U.S. courts before the crossing the border, according to a plan that’s won the support of the incoming Mexican government, the Washington Post reported.

Central American migrants at an improvised refugee camp in Tijuana, Mexico.

Photographer: Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg

In a victory for the Trump administration, the potential agreement would break long-standing rules and install new barriers for Central American migrants attempting to reach the U.S., the newspaper reported Saturday, citing Mexican officials and senior members of president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team.

The plan, to be known as “Remain in Mexico,” would require asylum applicants at the border to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed, potentially ending a system President Donald Trump calls “catch and release” that has until now generally allowed those seeking refuge to wait on safer U.S. soil, according to the Post.

An official at Mexico’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Trump said on Twitter late Saturday that migrants at the border wouldn’t be allowed into the U.S. until their claims were heard in court, threatening to close the country’s southern border “if it becomes necessary.” He didn’t comment on any agreement with the Mexican government.

Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister, told the Post that “for now, we have agreed to this policy of ‘Remain in Mexico,”’ adding that “the medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate.”

Sanchez later appeared to backtrack, telling the Associated Press that “there is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government.”

Photographer: Ronaldo Chemidt/AFP via Getty Images

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley didn’t address the plan in a statement, saying merely that “President Trump has developed a strong relationship with the incoming Obrador administration, and we look forward to working with them on a wide range of issues.”

The deal shows that the Trump administration overcame Mexico’s historic reticence to deepen cooperation with the U.S. on an issue widely seen there as America’s problem. According to the newspaper, no formal agreement has been signed and details are still under discussion.

Election Issue

Should such a plan go ahead, it may deter people from attempting to migrate to the U.S. from Central America via Mexico. Trump deployed U.S. military forces to California, Arizona and Texas in recent weeks, and threatened to close busy border crossings after thousands of migrants traveling as part of a so-called caravan forced their way onto Mexican soil last month.

Democrats and human rights activists are likely to be concerned about the “Remain in Mexico” strategy, and in the past have expressed concern it may put migrants at risk and make it more difficult for them to apply for asylum.

The new measures could also trigger fresh legal challenges.

Immigration, including recent issues tied to asylum seekers from Central America, was a flashpoint in this month’s U.S. midterm elections and will probably continue to play a key role in the new Congress and in shaping the debate ahead of the 2020 presidential vote.

Read more: Trump, Pelosi Set Collision Courts on Immigration Policy

The caravan and the topic of asylum seekers has become a source of frustration for Trump, and were a major part of his messaging in a series of pre-election rallies.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in California halted the Trump administration’s latest attempt to seal the U.S. southern border by barring migrants from seeking asylum inside the country. The judge prevented the government from restricting asylum applications to those made at official ports of entry, although the Justice Department will likely appeal the order.

— With assistance by Jim Silver, Andrew Rosati, and Sebastian Tong

(Updates with Trump tweet in fifth paragraph.)

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