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Mexico slams unilateral return of migrants by US

Roberto Velasco, spokesman for the Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretariat, expresses during this press conference on Jan. 25, 2019, the Mexican government's criticism of the United States for sending Central American applicants for US asylum back to Mexico while their applications are being processed. EFE-EPA/Jose Mendez

Roberto Velasco, spokesman for the Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretariat, expresses during this press conference on Jan. 25, 2019, the Mexican government’s criticism of the United States for sending Central American applicants for US asylum back to Mexico while their applications are being processed. EFE-EPA/Jose Mendez

EFE

The Mexican government has criticized the unilateral measure adopted by the United States of sending Central American applicants for US asylum back to Mexico, though it expressed its respect for the human rights of migrants, whose return is expected to begin in the coming hours.

The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also rejected being considered a third country where migrants can be stored while their applications for asylum in the United States are being processed, according to Roberto Velasco, spokesman for the Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretariat.

“An agreement like this implies a binding commitment to allow all migrants applying for asylum in the United States after passing through our country to stay here while their cases are being processed,” Velasco said.

Velasco said the Mexican government has been informed that in the coming hours, the United States “will present unilaterally 20 foreigners at the checkpoint of San Isidro” between the US city of San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

Mexico does not agree with this unilateral US measure, “though we repeat our commitment to the migrants and their human rights,” he said.

The spokesman said that Mexico endorses and respects the “principle of no return established in international law, according to which no state can send applicants for asylum back to any country where their lives would be in danger.”

Mexico has said that “it will not take back unaccompanied minors or people with health problems,” but if a family is expelled, the matter will be considered separately given its complexity, he added.

Mexico said that once the applications for asylum in the US have been processed, the placing of the applicants becomes the exclusive responsibility of the United States.

“That means the Mexican government will not accept the return of foreigners who are appealing the rejection of their plea for asylum,” he said.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement Thursday that certain asylum applicants will not be allowed to remain freely in the United States as has been the case up to now, but will be returned to Mexico until their applications are resolved.

These migrants will only be allowed to return to the US to appear before a judge when the date of their hearing has been set.


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