Trump’s Latest Immigration Policy Would Force Asylum Seekers To Stay In Mexico

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Mexico's president-elect has reportedly agreed to support a new Trump administration policy requiring asylum-seeking migrants to wait in Mexico while their applications are processed in the United States. But it's unclear how long Mexico's support for the policy, which would represent a major overhaul of U.S. asylum procedures, might last. According to The Washington Post, Mexico's incoming interior minister called President Donald Trump's new policy a "short-term solution."

"For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico," incoming Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sánchez Cordero told The Washington Post. According to the paper, Sánchez Cordero characterized the Trump administration's policy as a "short-term solution."

"The medium- and long-term solution is that people don't migrate," Sánchez Cordero said. "Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us."

According to the American Immigration Council, current asylum law requires that the person applying for asylum be physically present in the United States at the time of their application. What's more, current asylum law enables a person to apply for asylum through either the affirmative process, meaning they entered the country legally and are not involved in removal proceedings, or through the defensive process, meaning they entered without inspection or are involved in removal proceedings and seeking asylum as a defense against deportation.

Under the Trump administration's proposed Remain in Mexico policy, asylum seekers from Central America would no longer be required, or even allowed, to be physically present in the United States while their applications are processed. The policy would effectively end the so-called practice of "catch and release," which President Trump has long criticized.

But human rights organizations have already expressed concern about Trump's reported Remain in Mexico policy. "We have not seen a specific proposal, but any policy that would leave individuals stranded in Mexico would inevitably put people in danger," American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Lee Gelernt told the Hill. "The Administration ought to concentrate on providing a fair and lawful asylum process in the U.S. rather than inventing more and more ways to try to short-circuit it."

Earlier this month, Trump signed a presidential order barring migrants from filing asylum applications unless they formally present themselves and agree to wait at legal ports of entry. On Tuesday, a federal court in California temporarily blocked Trump's order from taking effect after ruling that it imposed "a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," NPR reported.

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric on immigration amid reports that a caravan of asylum-seekers from Central American is headed toward the U.S.-Mexico border. Earlier in the week, he threatened to close the border unless Mexico's government stepped up its own security efforts. "If we find that it's uncontrollable, if we find it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control," Trump told reporters Thursday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, per USA Today.

"We are either going to have a border, or we're not," he added. "When they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border."