Over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, the administration has narrowed what the government considers grounds for asylum, and most recently it tried to ban those who cross the border illegally from requesting the protection. Now, it’s considering yet another proposal that could make it even harder for individuals seeking refuge in the U.S.
The Trump administration is reportedly brokering a deal with Mexico’s incoming government that would require asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their claims are processed in the United States. Over the weekend, President Trump said on Twitter that migrants would have to remain in the country “until their claims are individually approved in court.” While Mexican officials pushed back against the president’s tweets, saying no agreement had been reached, discussions are still under way, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“We won’t have a final decision until the new government actually takes over, which will happen on Saturday,” Sanders said at a press briefing on Tuesday, adding that a meeting between Trump-administration officials and Mexico’s new foreign minister will be held next week.
Few details have been provided about the arrangement, but the general outline, as described in media reports and by the president, suggests that it would effectively make Mexico a waiting room for thousands of Central American migrants. It’s a dramatic divergence from current policy: Today, individuals apply for asylum once they’re on American soil. Once they do, they’re either detained or released into the U.S. until their immigration hearing. Trump has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the latter practice, which he decries as “catch and release.” His criticisms of the process have escalated over recent months, as thousands of migrants traveling in a caravan arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.