The United States will return the first group of migrants seeking asylum in the United States to the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Friday, a spokesman for Mexico’s president said on Thursday.
In a major policy change, US President Donald Trump’s administration said on December 20 it would send non-Mexican migrants who cross the US southern border back to wait in Mexico while their US asylum requests are processed.
The spokesman for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s office did not specify the nationalities of those to be returned to Mexico, although the policy was aimed at helping cope with rising numbers of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States.
The two countries have held two meetings to work out details of the plan to return migrants seeking US asylum across the shared border. Mexico has said it will not accept anybody facing a credible threat in Mexican territory.
It is unclear how Mexico plans to house what could be thousands of asylum seekers for the months – or years – it takes US immigration cases to be heard. A backlog of more than 800,000 cases is pending in immigration courts.
The move comes as Trump escalates his efforts to severely limit the number of migrants and refugees entering and living in the US.
The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute and jail all undocumented border crossers, even those travelling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year.
But the auditor said in a report that prior to the officially announced policy, the government had ramped up separations for other reasons related to a child’s safety and well-being, including separating parents with criminal records or lack of proper documents.