In a major break with current policy, Central American asylum seekers who arrive at the US border would be forced to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Trump administration is preparing to implement sweeping new measures that will turn away Central American asylum seekers at the US border who cannot establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution in Mexico, the Post reports, citing a Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by the paper. The new rules will take effect as soon as Friday, the Post reports.
Many of the thousands of migrants making their way to the US say they are fleeing gang violence, persecution and poverty in Central America and hope they’ll find safety and security in the US.
The plan, called “Remain in Mexico,” is a major departure from current procedure, the Post reports, which generally allows asylum seekers who establish a fear of return to their home country to avoid immediate deportation.
According to the DHS memo, “If you are determined to have a reasonable fear of remaining in Mexico, you will be permitted to remain in the United States while you await your hearing before an immigration judge,” the Post reports. “If you are not determined to have a reasonable fear of remaining in Mexico, you will remain in Mexico,” the memo continues, according to the Post.
The Post reports US Citizenship and Immigration Services is sending teams of asylum officers to the ports of entry in the San Diego area to implement the new procedures, citing a USCIS official.
Reports of the new plan come a day after a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from denying asylum claims to immigrants who cross the border illegally.
A spokeswoman for DHS, Katie Waldman, said in a statement that there are no immediate plans to implement the new rules. “The President has made clear — every single legal option is on the table to secure our nation and to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants at our borders,” Waldman’s statement reads.
“DHS is not implementing such a new enforcement program this week,” Waldman’s statement continues. “Reporting on policies that do not exist creates uncertainty and confusion along our borders and has a negative real world impact. We will ensure — as always — that any new program or policy will comply with humanitarian obligations, uphold our national security and sovereignty, and is implemented with notice to the public and well coordinated with partners.”
The White House did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment. CNN also has reached out to the White House for comment.