Mexico begins returning migrants seeking asylum in U.S.

Migrants follow a smuggler after riding an inflatable raft on the Suchiate River from Tecun Uman, Guatemala to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico on May 9. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI

July 3 (UPI) — The Mexican government on Tuesday began busing dozens of Central American migrants to their native countries, after they’d been forced to wait in Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are being processed.

The 69 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were bused from Ciudad Ju├írez on Tuesday morning as the first group to participate in the Mexican government’s “temporary program of voluntary return,” the National Migration Institution said in a statement.

The migration institute said 66 migrants were returnees under the Trump administration’s controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy, which was announced in December and will see tens of thousands of migrants wait out their processing claims in Mexico.

The Mexican government said it “will continue to provide support to foreigners who are in Mexico on a regular basis, in order to carry out the return to their countries of origin, if they so request.”

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The program will soon be rolled out to Tijuana and Mexicali, two other internment locations where Mexico has received asylum seekers hoping to enter the United States.

The migrants who choose to participate in the program are given documents that allow them to re-enter Mexico to attend court dates in the United States, CBS News reported.

Last month, Mexico and the United States signed an agreement to work together to stop migrants from the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador before they get to the U.S.-Mexico border and apply for asylum in the United States.

The deal was made under threat of tariffs. The Trump administration had warned of a 5 percent tax increase on Mexican products if the government didn’t find a way to stifle the flow of migrants.

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