SAN DIEGO (AP) – The Trump administration will force some asylum seekers to wait in Mexico on Friday, while their cases have been brought down by US courts. One official said he should initiate one of the most important changes in the immigration system in years.
The changes will be introduced at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego, according to a US official familiar with the plan who spoke Thursday on the condition of anonymity because it is not yet final. San Ysidro is the country's busiest intersection and the choice of asylum seekers who arrived in Tijuana (Mexico) in November in a caravan of more than 6,000 predominantly Central American migrants are being extended to other intersections. It does not apply to children traveling alone or to asylum seekers from Mexico.
In recent days, a near-completed plan has been drawn up in bilateral talks in Mexico City. It calls on US authorities to return asylum seekers for trials in downtown San Diego, including a first appearance within 45 days.
The Trump government will not take any action to seek advice from lawyers who can do so to visit or talk to customers in Tijuana.
US officials will also begin processing about 20 asylum applications per day on the San Diego crossing, but intend to exceed the number of applications processed today, up to 100 per day, the official said.
Politics could be seriously straining Mexican border towns. The US border agencies filed 92,959 "credible fear" claims – a first review that looked at asylum – 67 percent more than a year ago in the last 12 months. Many are Central American families.
The policy of remaining in Mexico is the latest move by President Donald Trump to redevelop immigration policy, even if it may be temporary. Other important changes were blocked in court, including a ban on asylum for people crossing the border illegally from Mexico, and generally dismissing domestic violence and gang violence as grounds for asylum.
It's also an early test of relations between two populist presidents, Trump and Mexico's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on 1 December. Mexico has steadfastly rejected Trump's request to pay a border wall. In a stalemate that the government partially closed, the president called for $ 5.7 billion in more than a month of congressional demands.
Mexican officials did not respond immediately to requests on Thursday.
Roberto Velasquez, spokesman for the Mexican Foreign Minister, earlier this week emphasized that there was no bilateral treaty and that Mexico was a unilateral move by the United States. He said in an interview that discussions "covering a very broad range of topics" aim to prepare Mexico for the change.
The outline of the plan was announced on December 20, but details were not announced until Thursday. Mexico said last month that asylum seekers in the US would receive temporary humanitarian visas while their cases are located in the US, which may take years and permission could be applied to work in Mexico. The Americans cross as another major caravan South of the country.
While the illegal crossings from Mexico are at historically low levels, the US has seen an increase in asylum applications, particularly from Central American families. Due to the lack of family custody and a 20-day restriction on the detention of children by a court, they are usually released with an ad in the immigration court. With a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, it can take years to settle the cases.
It is unclear whether the Central Americans will be detained by the US asylum application if they have to wait in Tijuana, a booming city with many jobs. Tijuana does not approach wages close to the US, and asylum seekers generally have far fewer family ties than in the US.
Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan
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Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of State for Foreign Relations, said Mexico will coordinate with the US on the mechanisms of politics, giving migrants access to information and legal services. Ebrard said on December 24 that he wanted more information to ensure "orderly and secure" protocols.
Rafael Fernandez de Castro, director of the University of California, San Diego Center for US-Mexico Studies, said last week that Mexico has not done so, taking full account of the impact on Mexican border towns.
"This could have a lasting impact on Mexican border towns," said Fernandez de Castro. "We need to evaluate the potential numbers and how we can help them stay healthy, which we do not have."
Associated Press authors Maria Verza of Mexico City and Colleen Long of Washington contributed to the report.