The first asylum seeker from Central America has re-entered Mexico from the United States. A significant new change in the country’s asylum policy, which Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen first announced in December, has now gone into effect. Yesterday, one man, Carlos Catarlo Gomez from Honduras, had his asylum paperwork processed in the U.S. and rather than wait for his court date in the U.S. (the way the policy has always been before), had to return to Mexico. He must now await his U.S. court date in Mexico.
As of now, he has been the only asylum seeker to return to Mexico, and it is unclear how many others will join him. The U.S. rarely accepts asylum seekers as it is, and this new policy is their attempt at curbing the number of people who request asylum in the U.S., as the policy before included that they wait in the U.S.
According to CNN, the Mexican government has agreed to accept the incoming asylum seekers from the U.S. because it is a “humanitarian” issue, but they said they would not accept unaccompanied minors or people with health issues. That may imply that the U.S. will continue to accept children into the county, per usual, but it remains to be unseen if that will include their parents and or guardians. This could be another family separation situation in the making, which RAICES says is still happening right now. Human rights organizations, along with immigration groups, have rejected the country’s new asylum policy, saying it violates the law.
“The U.S. Government violates asylum seekers’ rights and fails to uphold responsibilities under international law when it expels them to Mexico while they seek refuge in the U.S. Likewise, the Mexican government is accomplice to this violation when it agrees to accept asylum seekers who fled their countries through Mexico to seek refuge in the U.S.,” the Pueblo Sin Fronteras advocacy group said in a statement Friday, according to CNN. “The U.S. government wants to turn Mexico into a vast immigration detention center.”
In December, Nielsen made a statement about the change in policy, saying that asylum seekers, would not be able to “to disappear into the United States,” she said. “They will have to wait for approval. If they are granted asylum by a U.S. judge, they will be welcomed into America. If they are not, they will be removed to their home countries.”