Incoming Mexican Government Denies It’s Struck a Deal with Trump on Asylum Seekers

Previous reports suggested an agreement had been reached to keep migrants in Mexico while their claims move through US courts.

Migrants near the US border in the Mexican city of Tijuana queue to get food on November 19, 2018. Omar Mart'nez/AP

On Saturday, officials from the incoming government of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied that they agreed to any deal with the US that would require asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims move through US courts. Denials began surfacing just hours after the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had won the support of the new Mexican government for such a deal.

As my colleague Nathalie Baptiste reported, the agreement, once made official, would have upended current asylum law in the United States that allows asylum seekers to remain inside the country while their claims are being processed. Under the proposed plan, which the Mexican government reportedly called a “short-term solution,” asylum seekers who were denied entry into the United States would have been returned to their home countries. The deal was seen as yet another way to dissuade thousands of Central American refugees from seeking safe haven in the United States.

But the president’s hopes for the “Remain in Mexico” proposal seem to have hit a snag. Even though future Interior Minister Olga Sanchez told the Washington Post that the administration had agreed to this policy, her office released a statement shortly after the story ran saying that “there is no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government.” 

This morning, Trump sent a Tweet condemning the about-face:

The New York Times reports that officials from Obrador’s administration, including Sanchez, would be meeting as early as Sunday to discuss the US proposal. “We still do not have a specific proposal from the United States,” incoming Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told the Times. “[W]e are analyzing it with care.”