WASHINGTON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Mexico's incoming government has agreed to back the Trump administration's plan to change U.S. border policy by requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through U.S. courts, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
Citing Mexican officials and senior members of president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's transition team, the newspaper said the agreement would break with long-standing asylum rules and mount a new obstacle to Central American migrants attempting to reach the United States and escape poverty and violence.
Olga Sanchez Cordero, Mexico's incoming interior minister and the top domestic policy official for Lopez Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1, told the Washington Post the plan known as Remain in Mexico was a "short-term solution."
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"The medium- and long-term solution is that people don't migrate,” Sanchez Cordero said. "Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us."
The paper said that according to the outlines of the plan, asylum applicants at the border will have to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed, potentially ending the system President Donald Trump decries as "catch and release" that has until now generally allowed those seeking refuge to wait on safer U.S. soil.
There was no immediate comment from the White House or Mexico on the deal that the Washington Post said took shape last week in Houston during a meeting between Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, and top U.S. officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Trump has been seeking to block thousands of Central Americans traveling in caravans from entering the United States, and has ordered that immigrants who enter the country illegally from Mexico are ineligible for asylum.
That order has been temporary suspended by a U.S. judge. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani Editing by Tom Brown)