After making several threats to do so, the Trump administration today will begin shipping Central American US-asylum seekers back to Mexico. This move is especially important to the White House amidst the ongoing record-breaking government shutdown in the United States, where the predominant issue is the President’s $5.7bn border wall.
Officials from Mexico’s foreign ministry have warned that they may not have the institutional capacity or public support to accommodate this process. The next few weeks ought to be interesting as the bilateral commitment between the US and Mexico to mitigate the migration drivers in Central America will be tested.
The policy dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and first announced on Dec. 20 will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the U.S. southern border back to wait in Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in U.S. immigration courts.
The plan is aimed at curbing the increasing number of families arriving mostly from Central America who say they fear returning to their home countries due to threats of violence. The Trump administration says many of the claims are not valid.
The program will apply to arriving migrants who ask for asylum at ports of entry or who are caught crossing illegally and say they are afraid to return home.
Children traveling on their own and some migrants from “vulnerable populations” could be excluded on a case-by-case basis, the Department of Homeland Security said in a fact sheet.
“The MPP will provide a safer and more orderly process that will discourage individuals from attempting illegal entry and making false claims to stay in the U.S., and allow more resources to be dedicated to individuals who legitimately qualify for asylum,” the DHS said.