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Mexico Official Explains Why Returned Asylum-Seekers Will Be Accepted

Migrants arrange cots on a floor at El Barretal, Dec. 4, 2018.

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Above: Migrants arrange cots on a floor at El Barretal, Dec. 4, 2018.

Mexico's Consul General in San Diego, Marcela Celorio, said Mexico is accepting the asylum-seekers that the U.S. returns to Mexico because officials want to have a consistent humanitarian policy toward migrants.

"We open the south for migrants. So how come we're not going to open our border to Central Americans coming from the north?" Celorio said. "If they are returned to Mexico, we should help them."

Some local nonprofits such as Alliance San Diego have criticized Mexico for accepting returned asylum-seekers while they await their day in U.S. court.

A Homeland Security official told reporters last week that the U.S. could return asylum seekers to Mexico after an initial asylum screening even without Mexico’s cooperation.

On that point, Celorio differs with the U.S. If American officials, she said, want to return people legally, through the ports of entry, they must have the cooperation of Mexican authorities stationed there.

She said the pilot program, called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), is starting out slower than expected, with only about 30 people returned to Mexico since the program started last week.

Celorio added that the program may involve families and be expanded to other ports of entry beyond San Ysidro.

"There's constant communication from both governments ... to see how this program goes," she said.

A top Mexican official says the Mexican government wants to welcome migrants, regardless of which border they're coming from.

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