MEXICO CITY – Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard ruled out on Monday that his country would become a “safe third country” for migrants seeking asylum or refuge in the United States after US President Donald Trump tightened regulations for accepting asylum applications from migrants.
“A safe third country means that Mexico handles the asylum process to enter the United States on Mexican territory. This will not occur with this (US) regulation,” said the foreign minister at a press conference in Mexico City.
Ebrard criticized the US move, saying that “this rule means a limitation on the right to asylum with which Mexico is not in agreement,” and he rejected the idea that Central American migrants could undertake the procedure for requesting US asylum on Mexican territory, although Canada does allow that.
He noted that the establishment of Mexico as a safe country would require a bilateral accord approved by the Mexican Congress and could not be accomplished via a “unilateral” ruling such as the one announced by Washington.
The US government on Monday announced that it will not provide asylum for migrants who do not previously file their requests from a safe third country in a new attempt to stem the migratory influx across the Mexican border, mostly from Central America.
“An alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum,” says a new order published in the Federal Register and which will take effect on Tuesday, July 16.
The ruling was presented by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Mexican foreign minister said that the thousands of migrants who are presently in northern Mexico waiting to request US asylum will not be affected by the new US rule.
“The right of a person who has already made his asylum request would not be suspended, and these are those who are in Mexico awaiting a hearing. That hearing cannot be cancelled,” Ebrard said.
Upon being asked about what will happen to the Central Americans who keep arriving in northern Mexico without having requested asylum, Ebrard said only that “We will see.”
In any case, Mexican Foreign Secretariat officials noted that all those migrants whose asylum requests may be rejected by the US for not having been made from a safe third country will have to be deported to their countries of origin and not simply to Mexico.
Regarding the announcement of the increase in deportations recently made by the Trump administration, Ebrard said that the Mexican government had not detected any “increase in the number of deportees,” although he warned “that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t occur in the coming days.”
Ebrard, in his remarks, opened the door to traveling to Washington this week to open up “direct communications” with the White House, if officials’ agenda permit.
“We’re ready to defend Mexicans in the United States,” said Ebrard, adding that the 50 Mexican consulates in its northern neighbor are alert to what may occur in the coming hours and days.