Mexico has agreed to a fundamental change on how it deals with migrants seeking asylum in the US. Instead of being allowed to cross into America, they will now be returned to Mexico to wait out the legal process, reports the AP.
The Homeland Security Department calls Mexico’s agreement to accept the migrants “historic,” while the Mexican government made clear that it viewed the move as a temporary one, reports the Washington Post.
US and Mexican officials have been negotiating for weeks on the “Remain in Mexico” plan—the US view being that many asylum-seekers vanish into the US while their requests are processed. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was expected to outline the change to a House panel Thursday.
“They will not be able to disappear into the United States,” said Nielsen in a statement.
“They will have to wait for approval to come into the United States. If they are granted asylum by a US judge, they will be welcomed into America. If they are not, they will be removed to their home countries.”
Mexico has never previously allowed migrants from other nations back into its borders.
“They will be entitled to equal treatment without any discrimination and with due respect to their human rights, as well as the opportunity to apply for a work permit so they can find paid jobs, which will allow them to meet their basic needs,” says a statement from the Mexican government.
(Nielsen was to face questions from lawmakers about the death of a young girl in US custody.)