US to Send Migrants Back to Mexico While Asylum Cases Pending

”Catch and release’ will be replaced with ‘catch and return”…

US to Send Migrants Back to Mexico While Asylum Cases Pending

AFP/File / Carlos ALONZO
Central American migrants are seen here crossing the Suchiate River into Mexico in November on their way to the United States

(AFP) The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will send migrants who cross the southern border back to Mexico while their cases are being heard so they cannot “disappear” on US soil.

“Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates,” announced Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, citing statutory authority in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico. ‘Catch and release’ will be replaced with ‘catch and return,'” Nielsen said in a statement.

The move came amid President Donald Trump’s frustration that efforts to stem a tide of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America for the United States have not worked.

Over the past year, many have made their way across the border and then requested asylum, forcing the US to review their cases.

The cases can take months or years to weigh and, in the meantime, the migrants are released.

“This agreement…will enable true asylum seekers to seek that status in a safe and orderly manner,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican. “It will discourage people from making the dangerous trip to our southwest border based on the belief they will automatically be allowed into the country, be given work authorization, and be permitted to remain here throughout the asylum adjudication process, which often takes years.”

Trump recently ordered that the asylum claims of migrants from Central America — mainly Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — be automatically denied.

But in recent weeks, courts have accepted lawsuits challenging the legality of that order and have blocked officials from implementing it.

Nielsen said Thursday’s decision will reduce illegal migration “by removing one of the key incentives that encourages people from taking the dangerous journey to the United States in the first place.”

“This will also allow us to focus more attention on those who are actually fleeing persecution.”

Nielsen said the Mexican government, which will now be forced to deal with the migrants, has been informed of the US decision.

“In response, Mexico has made an independent determination that they will commit to implement essential measures on their side of the border,” she said.

“We expect affected migrants will receive humanitarian visas to stay on Mexican soil, the ability to apply for work, and other protections while they await a US legal determination.”

Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.