As Wall Debate Looms, U.S. Begins New Policy Toward Asylum Seekers

While much of America was focused on the government shutdown, the Trump Administration quietly began rolling out a major change to the nation's immigration policy that will have a huge impact on Texas, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

The so-called "Remain in Mexico" plan forces Central American migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts. They will not be allowed to live in the United States with relatives or a sponsor, which had been the case.  

Stephanie Leutert, who heads the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas-Austin, says this is a major change.

"It will reshape a lot of the immigration flows as we've seen them for the past few years," she says.

The changes are starting at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, which is across from Tijuana.  She says there are major facilities there to assist migrants on both sides of the border.  But as this is rolled out to Texas, there are logistical and security concerns.

"Asylum seekers don’t have any support networks or protection in these cities, and are perfect targets for the cartels, looking to make some money.

"While Tijuana is a busy port for migrants, including that recent caravan of more than 6,000 mostly Central American migrants, the Texas border sees more families and children, who would be affected by these new rules.

Mexico will accept some Central American asylum seekers, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco tells Reuters that his country will not accept migrants who may become victims of violence in Mexico.

"If they return people who are vulnerable, that have a founded fear of persecution in Mexico, or people that require some special attention, we don't have resources to address that," he said.


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