Trump says migrants to wait in Mexico, incoming govt denies it
MEXICO CITY: US President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that migrants at the US-Mexico border would stay in Mexico until their asylum claims were approved in US courts, but Mexico's incoming government denied they had struck any deal.
Mexico's incoming interior minister said there was "no agreement of any type between the future government of Mexico and the United States".
Ms Olga Sanchez Cordero, also the top domestic policy official for president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Saturday, told Reuters that the incoming government was in talks with the US but said that they could not make any agreement since they were not yet in government.
Ms Sanchez ruled out that Mexico would be declared a "safe third country" for asylum claimants, following a Washington Post report of a deal with the Trump administration known as "Remain in Mexico," which quoted her as calling it a "short-term solution."
The plan, according to the newspaper, has migrants staying in Mexico while their asylum claims in the US are being processed, potentially ending a system Mr Trump decries as "catch and release" that often allows those seeking refuge to wait on safer US soil.
"Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No "Releasing" into the US," Mr Trump said in a tweet late Saturday.
"All will stay in Mexico," Mr Trump added in second tweet.
Mr Trump has been seeking to block thousands of Central Americans from entering the US, and has ordered that immigrants who enter the country illegally from Mexico are ineligible for asylum.
That order has been suspended by a US judge.
Ms Sanchez, who said the situation of migrant caravans was"very delicate", did not explicitly rule out that Mexico could keep caravan migrants on its soil while their US asylum claims are processed.
But she told Reuters that plans to assume "safe third country" status were "ruled out".
Migration activists have argued that Mexico does not have the conditions to offer safe haven for migrants fleeing violence in Central America.
Ms Alison Leal Parker, US managing director for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights organisation, said the plan was "a pathetic attempt by the United States to shirk responsibility".
The effect, Ms Parker said, would likely "push people fleeing for (their) lives into riskier attempts to find safety, including using criminal human smugglers who will gain power under this new policy". - REUTERS