President Donald Trump has said that the US and Mexico have reached an agreement—at least in principle (although Trump is his usual more definitive self)—that those seeking asylum in the US will remain in Mexico until their asylum cases have been heard and acted on by the US. The Washington Post has claimed to quote incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero as saying so, too.
However, Sanchez Cordero says that she said no such thing to WaPo. In fact, she says that no such deal, no Remain in Mexico program—”of any sort”—exists. Given that newspaper’s record of honest reporting, I believe Sanchez Cordero.
What interests me about her statement, though, is this:
The future government does not consider […] that Mexico assumes the status of “safe third country” for Central American migrants, or from other countries, who are on Mexican territory or for those who will reach it in the future[.]
There are a few interpretations for this statement. One is that Mexico doesn’t consider itself to be a “safe” country of any sort—a recognition that would be consistent with the corruption rampant in the Mexican police at all jurisdictional levels and with the broad power held by the several drug cartels that operate freely throughout Mexico.
Another is simply that Mexico doesn’t want the legal liability that would accrue from accepting that status.
A third is that rejecting the status is not the same as declining to make an exception for the current “caravan” of persons claiming to seek asylum in the US after having explicitly rejected Mexico’s offer of asylum.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.