Trump Administration Begins ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy, Sending Asylum-Seekers Back

Saul Bowman
February 1, 2019

And a Mexican official with direct knowledge of the process said Mexico requested that families be excluded from the policy, but that the U.S. declined to make any commitment, conceding only to start with single adults.

On the first day of the policy, which now applies only to San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing, a 55-year-old Honduran man, Carlos Gomez, became the first asylum seeker to be returned to Mexico.

"We may try Nogales or another port", says Carlos Nunez who began this journey with the caravan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Jan 15th.

Gustavo Magallanes Cortés, the director of migrant affairs for Baja California, said on Monday that he feared that federal budget cuts this year - of about $1.2 million in Baja California - to a migrant assistance fund had left small shelters scrambling for resources. He appeared confused and scared by the throng of reporters waiting for him.

National Immigration Institute Commissioner Tonatiuh Guillen also said Mexico won't extend the policy beyond a single border crossing, the El Chaparral crossing in Tijuana.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to allow an unused courthouse to temporarily house migrants while they seek asylum in the US.

The Department of Homeland Security said the new policy aims to discourage invalid asylum claims.

Nielsen was at the border crossing Tuesday, but she made no public remarks. Where will the asylum seekers stay in Mexico for months or years as their cases are processed? A sharp increase in Central American families seeking asylum in the U.S. led to the Trump administration's dramatic move, and limiting families would diminish the impact.

The return to Mexico of Catarlo Gomez coincided with a trip by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to San Ysidro to assess implementation of the administration's "migrant protection protocols". But Mexican officials have expressed concern about their ability to provide a comprehensive humanitarian response to the new US policy.

"The operational complexity of receiving asylum seekers from the United States opens the door to new potential drawbacks", Velasco wrote. Under global law, asylum applicants can not be sent back to the country they are fleeing. But the new policy has been sharply criticized by opponents on both sides of the border.

"This action is a response to the illegal migration crisis the United States is facing on its southern border".

Customs and Border Protection said asylum seekers would be given a sheet with information on the process and a list of free or low-priced legal service providers.

Mexican officials have maintained they had nothing to do with the policy, calling it a unilateral decision by the United States.

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