There was contradictory news reporting over the weekend that México and the United States reached an agreement to allow asylum seekers to remain in México while their asylum request is processed by the American government. The White House says the agreement was reached, while the incoming AMLO government denied it after first confirming the report. The AMLO government takes over on Saturday. Somewhere in there lies the truth.
The Wait in Mexico Plan envisions would be asylum seekers applying for asylum and then waiting in México while their request is processed. The Trump Administration would love this scheme as it reinforces the notion that Trump kept the caravan migrants out of the United States Additionally, the migrants become a Mexican problem. Two versions have come out from the AMLO government. The first is that the plan is a “temporary” solution to the problem. The second is that the Mexican denial is about a “safe third country” agreement between México and the United States.
Canada and the United States have The Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement whereby refugees are required to apply for asylum in the first country they arrive at – Canada or the U.S. – before seeking asylum in the other country. There are some exceptions but generally it applies to all asylum seekers.
The U.S. government has been seeking a similar agreement with México.
Whether there is an agreement in place or one contemplated, the AMLO government must decline it unless substantial reciprocity on other geopolitical issues are agreed to by Donald Trump. Any agreement, whether temporary or a third-party, has serious repercussions for México.
The United States loves to deal with problems by forcing other countries to deal with them. The farther away from the United States the better it is for America’s foreign policy. Soviet expansion was dealt in other countries, like Vietnam. The War on Drugs is battled in countries like Colombia or México.
The new Soviet threat or drug war is the war on refugees. Poignantly, the refugees are a product of America’s battles to control Soviet expansion and its war on drugs.
For America, having México become a safe third country for refugees makes the refugee problem become a Mexican problem. It will be México that will be scrutinized by the international community for the “abuses” and the likely refugee camps that will result from it. The bottom line is that the refugee problem is an American problem. Trump would get to wash his hands of the problem by having México take it on.
How the AMLO government is going to handle the situation will be interesting to see.
History has proven that if México kowtows to America’s policy of dealing with problems extraterritorially will only hurt México.