Mexico's incoming government denies deal with Trump on asylum seekers

Mexico's government is denying a report by Trump and The Washington Post that it would be a 'third secure country'

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 25, 2018 11:00AM (EST)

Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018.  (Getty/AP/Salon)
Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (Getty/AP/Salon)

The incoming government of Mexico is disputing recent reports that it struck a major deal about the fate of migrant asylum-seekers with President Donald Trump.

Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico's incoming interior secretary, explained in a statement published by CNN on Sunday that their government has not made any deal with the Trump administration about the fate of migrants who stay in their country before entering the United States. This directly contradicts statements made by Trump and a report by The Washington Post, a newspaper that is hardly known for being sympathetic to the president.

"Mexico's next federal administration does not consider within its plans that Mexico assume the condition of 'third secure country' for the attention of Central American migrants or citizens of other countries in Mexican territory or those who will have that intention in the future," Sánchez Cordero said in the statement, adding that the new administration's focus will be in assisting the migrants as they attempt to receive food, health, and shelter, as well as make sure that their human rights aren't violated.

In the report by The Washington Post on Saturday, the newspaper wrote that "the Trump administration has won the support of Mexico’s incoming government for a plan to remake U.S. border policy by requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through U.S. courts, according to Mexican officials and senior members of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team." It also wrote:

The deal took shape last week in Houston during a meeting between Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, and top U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

Nielsen has been fighting to keep her job since the midterms, and while Trump has told aides he plans to replace her, the president praised her this past week for “trying.”

Trump himself seemed confident on Saturday that some kind of deal had been reached, based on a pair of tweets he posted discussing the supposed deal.

"Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No 'Releasing' into the U.S..." Trump wrote in his first tweet. He followed it by adding, "....All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!"

This isn't the first time this month that Trump's attempts to crack down on immigration have been dealt a major blow. Last week Trump suffered a major legal setback when Judge Jon S. Tigar of the US District Court for the Northern District of California decided that the president did not have the authority to ban granting asylum to immigrants who attempt to enter the United States outside of a legal checkpoint.

"Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Tigar wrote.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Andrés Manuel López Obrador Asylum Donald Trump Mexico Migrant Caravan