By RICARDO CASTILLO
On Monday, July 15, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the implementation of a new rule which would deny immigrants who arrive through Mexican territory seeking asylum access through the southern border.
Under the new regulation, all Central American asylum seekers on the way to the United States would be required to first pursue safe haven in a third country through which they had traveled on the way to the U.S. border with Mexico.
In Mexico, the move was seen as a mandate through which Trump intends to turn Mexico into a de facto third safe haven country.
Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón reacted in a press conference, saying that Trump’s asylum denial to those crossing through Mexico does not make the nation “a third safe country.”
The protest must have been heard loud and clear in Washington because early Tuesday, July 16, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he will visit Mexico on Sunday, July 21, to conduct direct talks with Ebrard.
It is worth noting that July 21 will is the day before the end of a 45-day period in which Mexico committed to dramatically lowering the number of migrants trying to cross the U.S. border illegally on threat of tariff sanctions from the Trump administration.
Ebrard made it clear that this new regulation had been a “unilateral” decision on the part of Washington to reduce the number of persons, primarily from Central America, arriving at the U.S. southern border. The measure, however, will also affect people from many other countries, including from Africa and the Middle East, as well as throngs of Cubans.
Ebrard explained that, in order to make Mexico a third safe nation for the United States, Washington would require that Mexico be in full agreement and that a decision be ratified by Congress.
“This cannot be unilateral,” Ebrard repeated.
During the conference, several Mexican consuls visiting the Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) explained that when a migrant enters the United States and is denied asylum, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities immediately begin a deportation procedure to transfer the migrant back to his or her country of origin. If there were a third-safe country agreement, that person would be deported to Mexico, but that’s not the way it works.
This mandate will not apply to undocumented Mexicans living in the United States. Mexico’s 50 consulates across the United States are currently offering potential Mexican deportees legal support.
The new measures, which went into effect Tuesday, July 16, requires migrants first seek asylum first in the first country they pass through, or else they will be ineligible to enter the United States.
Since, up until now, the majority of migrants crossing over the U.S. southern border come from Honduras and El Salvador, they would have to apply in Guatemala first or Mexico. Neither nation is ready for this. The Guatemalan Congress nixed the idea on Monday, even though outgoing President Jimmy Morales had shown a willingness to consider the prospect.
Trump’s new rule has not yet been approved by the U.S. Congress and was announced both by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. However, the American Civil Liberties Union has issued a statement claiming “this new rule is patently unlawful and we will sue swiftly.”
Mexico’s Ebrard announced through his Twitter account that he had already spoken to Pompeo.
“On Sunday, I will have a meeting with the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mike Pompeo, here in Mexico City to approach the migration plan,” he said. “We will also discuss other subjects, such as trade and the Integral Development Plan for Central America.”