'All will stay in Mexico': Trump says the US will bar asylum-seekers from entering the country until judges approve their claims

Getty Images/John MooreImmigrants wait to eat at a temporary migrant shelter set up near the U.S.-Mexico border on November 18, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico.
  • President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that asylum-seekers won’t be allowed to enter the United States until their claims are approved in court.
  • The move would mean that migrants will be forced to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are processed.
  • Mexican government officials on Saturday night denied that any agreement on the arrangement has been struck.
  • The news comes as nearly 5,000 migrants from the Central American caravan wait in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where they intend to cross into the US.

President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted that the United States will no longer allow asylum-seekers to enter the country until their claims are already approved by a judge, essentially confirming an earlier report that said migrants may be forced to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through the US court system.

“Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court,” he tweeted, adding that “we only will allow those who come into our Country legally,” though asylum-seekers often do legally enter the country at ports of entry before requesting asylum.

The incoming Mexican government, however, has denied that a deal has been struck.

“There is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government,” Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister, told the Associated Press in a statement.

The news comes as nearly 5,000 migrants from the Central American caravan wait in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, following a roughly month-long journey that began in Honduras in mid-October.

Read more: The first group of caravan migrants has reached the US border while thousands of others lag behind – here’s what awaits them when they arrive

The migrant caravans have become a frequent target for Trump’s ire, particularly during the 2018 midterm elections, when Trump and his conservative allies campaigned on a border crackdown.

“Our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No ‘Releasing’ into the U.S.,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!”

Trump’s tweets came hours after The Washington Post reported that a preliminary deal was struck between the Trump administration and the incoming Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who takes office on December 1.

According to The Post, Mexico would essentially become a “waiting room for America’s asylum system,” and incoming Mexican government officials have been amenable to the plans, though no formal deal was signed.

“For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico,” The Post quoted Sánchez Cordero as saying, adding that it was a “short-term solution.” “The medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate,” she said. “Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us.”

The deal isn’t Trump’s first effort to block the caravan migrants from entering the US – he signed an executive order earlier this month barring asylum for migrants who cross the border illegally, though US immigration law explicitly permits migrants to request asylum no matter how they entered the country.

A federal judge blocked Trump’s asylum ban earlier this week, arguing that Trump “may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”

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