The US and Mexico are reportedly close to a deal that would turn Mexico into a ‘waiting room for America’s asylum system’

Kids peer through the US-Mexico border fence while standing on the Mexican side of the fence Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • The US is reportedly close to reaching a deal with Mexico that would allow for asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed.
  • The plan appears to be an attempt to end the practice of “catch and release.”
  • If successfully reached, it will reportedly be implemented in a matter of weeks.

The White House and Mexican officials from the country’s incoming administration are reportedly close to a deal that would turn Mexico into “a waiting room for America’s asylum system,” according to a report from The Washington Post.

The deal would place migrants seeking asylum in the US in Mexico while they await judgment by US courts, according to Mexcian officials and members of president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team.

The plan, dubbed Remain in Mexico, appears to be President Donald Trump’s solution to “catch and release,” the American policy that has allowed asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America refuge on American soil until their cases are decided.

Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister, indicated to the Post that the decision to go along with the plan was part of an effort disincentivize continued migration from Central America.

“Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us,” Cordero said.

The deal, which has not been signed or officiated, reportedly took shape last week between Mexican officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

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When reached for comment, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said, “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 reported plan, which would be implemented within the next few weeks if it’s successfully reached, is one of the latest attempts by the Trump administration to stop or slow the flow of Central American migrants coming to the US who are fleeing gang violence and poor economic conditions.

In the last few months, Trump has ramped up his rhetoric and actions against immigrants. He’s particularly targeted the migrant caravan moving toward the US border that is now encamped in Tijuana.

In an executive order, Trump authorised the US military to use “lethal force” against migrants if they engage in violence against border officers. And as he escalated his anti-immigrant rhetoric leading up to the November midterms, Trump also sent nearly 6,000 troops to the border ahead of the caravan’s arrival.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled against Trump’s order that sought to deem asylum applications from individuals who didn’t enter the US at a port of entry ineligible.

The ACLU didn’t address whether it is considering suing the administration over Trump’s order. But Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the organisation, told the Post, “Leaving asylum seekers stranded in Mexico will put them in danger. The Trump administration should focus on providing a fair and lawful asylum process in the US rather than seeking more ways to undermine it.”