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Border & Immigration

U.S. Says Mexico's Concerns About Returning Asylum-Seeking Families To Mexico Won't Change Plans

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

Department of Homeland Security officials said Friday that a new program to return some asylum seekers to Mexico while they await their day in court is going to involve families, regardless of what Mexico wants.

Mexican officials have said they don’t want the United States to return asylum-seeking families to Mexico — just adults. They think families should be given priority for U.S. asylum.

"If the Mexican government decides to no longer provide humanitarian protections under their law ... that would be a bigger issue and we'd certainly be concerned. We have confidence that the administration will live up to those commitments," said a senior Homeland Security official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

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Officials said the new program, Migrant Protection Protocols, will prevent the U.S. government from separating families at the border.

"This is a way to make sure families stay together through the duration of their immigration proceedings," an official said.

About a dozen asylum seekers have been processed under the Migrant Protection Protocols since the program began earlier this week. None of those have been families, only single adults, but officials say families will eventually be included.

"We wanted to start with a relatively manageable cohort to make sure we got procedures down right," an official said.

U.S. Says Mexico’s Concerns About Returning Asylum-Seeking Families To Mexico Won’t Change Plans
The Department of Homeland Security says a newly launched program to return some asylum seekers to Mexico while they await their day in U.S. court will help keep families together. You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego Stories, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes,Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

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