The governments of Mexico and the United States are at an impasse over how to handle at-risk asylum seekers in the US, both Mexican and non-Mexican. So far, the Mexican government has made admirable humanitarian efforts to receive some of the US asylum seekers, regardless of national origin, but the strains are mounting and the resources are becoming ever more limited. The circumstances are becoming more dire as yet another Central American migrant caravan – consisting mostly of Hondurans – makes its way through Mexico for the US border.
Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border, triggering a 33-day U.S. government shutdown which has left 800,000 federal workers without pay.
In an interview on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco said Mexico cannot accept the return of migrants who are “in danger.”
“If they return people that are vulnerable, that have a founded fear of persecution in Mexico, or people that require some special attention, we don’t have resources to address that,” he said.
Velasco did not say how Mexico and the United States would determine which asylum seekers were at risk in Mexico. Last year about 93,000 people sought asylum at the southern border, up 67 percent from 2017, according to U.S. government data.
Serious doubts exist over whether Mexico can keep Central American asylum seekers who are fleeing poverty and crime safe, especially in border towns that are often more violent than the cities they left. Authorities are investigating the recent deaths of two Honduran teenagers kidnapped and killed in the border city of Tijuana.
It is unclear how Mexico plans to house what could be thousands of asylum seekers for the months, or years, it takes U.S. immigration cases to be heard. A backlog of more than 800,000 cases is pending in immigration courts.
Velasco said Mexico’s interior and foreign ministries had held two meetings since the announcement in which the two sides discussed details such as at what time and in what ports of entry asylum seekers would be returned to Mexico.