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Mexico: US To Send Back 20 Migrants Daily In New Asylum Plan

A crowd of asylum seekers gather around

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: A crowd of asylum seekers gather around "the notebook" while they wait to cross the border in Tijuana, Oct. 25, 2018.

The Mexican government said Friday the United States plans to return 20 migrants per day to Mexico as they await an answer to their U.S. asylum claims.

Roberto Velasco, the spokesman for Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said "the Mexican government doesn't agree with this unilateral move," but will accept the migrants under certain conditions.

Velasco said the first 20 migrants would be returned at the San Ysidro crossing, across from Tijuana, "in the next few hours." He said all are Central Americans and all apparently had temporary visas in Mexico.

That suggests they may have been part of last year's migrant caravans, given that many were given such visas.

He said the U.S. government wants to extend the practice, known as "Remain in Mexico," to the rest of the border crossing points. The United States expressed "its intention is that this measure will gradually be extended to the other border crossings," he said.

Velasco said Mexico won't accept migrants who have appealed a denial of asylum, unaccompanied children or people with health problems.

The return of families with children "is an issue that will be handled separately, given its complexity," he said.

He didn't say how or where Mexico would house the migrants, who might have to wait months or years for their asylum claims to be resolved.

Velasco said only that the Mexican federal government would coordinate with local authorities in Tijuana "to take any appropriate measures."

U.S. authorities plan to bus asylum seekers back and forth to the border for court hearings in downtown San Diego, including an initial appearance within 45 days.

The U.S. has witnessed a surge in asylum claims, especially from Central American families. Due largely to a court-imposed 20-day limit on detaining children, families are typically released with a notice to appear in immigration court. With a backlog of more than 800,000 cases, it can take years to settle cases.


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