Mexico distances itself from Trump’s asylum rule change

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The Mexican government announced Monday it will remain attentive to the U.S. treatment of asylum seekers, while seeking to distance itself from the Trump administration’s proposed changes to asylum rules.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced Monday that asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the United States will be ineligible for asylum when they reach the southern border. 

{mosads}The changes to asylum procedure will make most Central Americans passing through Mexico en route to the southern border ineligible for asylum in the United States, though it should not impact most Mexicans.

A release by Mexico’s foreign ministry called the decision a “unilateral” U.S. action.

“Mexico does not agree with measures that limit asylum and refugee status for those who fear for their lives or safety, and who fear persecution in their country of origin,” the statement read.

“The Government of Mexico will remain alert to the consequences of this decision taken by the U.S. for asylum seekers from various other countries that enter the U.S. across its southern border,” adds the official statement.

Mexico in June agreed to enhance its own immigration enforcement, sending its newly-created National Guard to patrol the country’s border with Guatemala, as part of an agreement with the Trump administration.

President Trump has since credited Mexico for it role in diminishing unauthorized border crossings to the United States, saying the country is “doing more” than Democrats in Congress on border security.

But Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been the subject of internal criticism for his administration’s role in blocking Central American migrants, and for not opposing U.S. programs like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

Under MPP, Central American migrants who apply for asylum in the United States are sent to Mexico to wait out their U.S. immigration court cases — López Obrador has said MPP is a unilateral action by the United States, and that Mexico receives MPP subjects out of humanitarian concerns.

In a veiled critique of the Trump administration’s announcement, the Mexican government said  “special attention will be paid to respecting the principle of non-refoulement, as per international law.”

Non-refoulement is an international law principle whereby prospective refugees and asylum seekers cannot be returned to a territory where they could be again subject to persecution.

The Trump administration has requested that Mexico adopt what’s known as a safe third country agreement — a bilateral agreement where third country nationals apply for asylum in the first country they land.

But Mexico has refused on the grounds that it lacks the resources to process all Central American asylum seekers, and that large swaths of Mexico are themselves unsafe.

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