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After Trump’s threat, Mexico announces asylum agreement may be off

The proposal would keep asylum-seekers in Mexico, rather than the U.S.

The supposed agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on asylum-seekers has apparently fallen through. CREDIT: GUILLERMO ARIAS / GETTY
The supposed agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on asylum-seekers has apparently fallen through. CREDIT: GUILLERMO ARIAS / GETTY

A day after news broke that the U.S. and Mexico had reached a new agreement on asylum-seekers, Mexican officials announced that the deal was off.

The agreement, initially reported by the Washington Post, would have seen asylum-seekers remain in Mexico — rather than the United States — while their applications were processed.

As ThinkProgress’s Melanie Schmitz wrote, “the deal breaks with long-standing asylum rules and will stymie the progress of the large caravan of migrants from Central America currently making its way to the U.S. southern border, fleeing poverty and gang violence. Those seeking refuge will now be forced to wait in Mexican border states, where cartel violence is rampant.”

The “Remain in Mexico” deal was apparently struck between the Trump administration and incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who begins his term next week.

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On Twitter, Donald Trump praised the deal, writing that asylum-seekers will “stay in Mexico.” Trump even threatened to close the border entirely if it becomes “necessary.”

But on Sunday, the AP reported that Mexican officials said the deal was off — and may never have existed in the first place.

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In a statement, Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez said there was “no agreement of any sort between the incoming Mexican government and the U.S. government.” The announcement conflicts with her previous statement, which indicated an agreement. 

Sanchez has not explained the discrepancy.

The deal’s apparent collapse is the latest blow to those pursuing asylum in the U.S. Thousands of asylum-seekers, mainly from Central America, have clustered in northern Mexico — and have recently become targets of anti-immigrant sentiment not only in the U.S., but in Mexico as well. Locals have harassed the migrants, and local officials have refused to use taxpayer funds in order to ease the migrants’ struggles.

Now, they’ll have to wait even longer to figure out their next steps — even as Trump threatens to close the border entirely.