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


Administration officials initially called it a "Remain in Mexico" policy to deter the waves of asylum-seeking families.

The asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico will be given multi-entry permits to attend their court dates in the United States and then return to Mexico.

Carlos Catarldo Gomez, of Honduras, right, is surrounded by reporters arriving back in Mexico. The US Embassy in Mexico said in a news release that the program began Tuesday.

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Mexico has said it will accept the return of certain people who have a date to appear in a US court, but will reject those who have health problems, are unaccompanied minors or would be in danger in Mexican territory. Mexican immigration officials ushered Gomez, 55, who was carrying a blue backpack, into a waiting van and took him to an undisclosed migrant shelter in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California.

Mexican authorities have said the United States plans to continue presenting 20 people a day at the Tijuana crossing, and eventually extend the policy to other points along the 3,145-kilometer (2,000-mile) border. Mexico's northern border includes some of the country's most unsafe cities, where migrants are often extorted or kidnapped.

The new policy does not apply to unaccompanied minors or to asylum-seekers from Mexico, according to government documents.

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A memo to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees reportedly said asylum seekers would be interviewed and allowed to stay only if they are "more likely than not" to be tortured or persecuted in Mexico, AP reported.

Numerous directors of the city's independent or church-run shelters said that through last weekend they had not been informed that they should prepare to receive returned migrants. President Donald Trump has blamed this decision as the driver for a record number of families looking to claim asylum at the border. Two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations were not public said shortly before the launch that the policy would start with about 100 people a week in a trial period of up to 90 days in San Diego.

The United States will now send back 20 individuals per day, according to Mexico's foreign relations secretary. They have also raised concerns that applicants sent back to Mexico will not have access to proper legal counsel in USA courts.

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"This action is a response to the illegal migration crisis the United States is facing on its southern border". But the new policy has been sharply criticized by opponents on both sides of the border. Most of those that request asylum will be required to wait in Mexico while their request is processed. Mexican officials had said on Friday that the transfers would happen that day.