Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Mexico says there is “no formal agreement between Mexico and the U.S.” concerning the “Remain in Mexico” Policy

The Mexican government has rejected the United States’ announcement that it will return asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico to await their immigration court hearings via a second border crossing.

The plan, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols but initially dubbed “Remain in Mexico,” began earlier this year at the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego, and will now extend to the crossing between Mexicali and Calexico, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said Monday. The Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) said yesterday that “the Mexican government doesn’t agree with this unilateral measure implemented by the United States authorities.”

When the United States government first announced in December that it would begin returning non-Mexican migrants to Mexico while their asylum claims were processed, the SRE said it would authorize for humanitarian reasons, and only temporarily. However, Foreign Affairs spokesman Roberto Velasco said at the time that there was no formal agreement between Mexico and the United States but rather that the “Remain in Mexico” plan was a “unilateral move” by the latter “that we have to respond to.”

Immigrant rights advocates have initiated legal action against the initiative, arguing that it forces migrants to wait in dangerous Mexican border cities where they are exposed to the same dangers they sought to escape from in their countries of origin. United States immigration officials say that only 240 migrants have so far been returned to Mexico under the program, a small fraction of the 76,000 that crossed Mexico’s northern border last month.

“We are starting small to see how this process works,” a DHS official told reporters at a briefing, “Just to make sure that we have the coordination down with Mexico, and we have a process that works.” The SRE added that Mexico has maintained contact with United States authorities to receive information about the people who will be returned to Mexico but only for “humanitarian reasons.”

“For the Mexican government, the primary purpose of contact . . . is to protect the human rights of affected migrants. This exchange of information does not in any way mean that the Mexican government agrees with the decisions and actions taken unilaterally by the government of the United States.”