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‘No agreement of any type’: Mexican minister torpedoes Trump claim on deal to overhaul asylum rules

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Mexico’s incoming interior minister said on Saturday there was “no agreement of any type between the future government of Mexico and the United States” that will require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through U.S. courts.

Olga Sanchez Cordero, also the top domestic policy official for president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who takes office on Dec. 1, ruled out that Mexico would be declared a “safe third country” for asylum claimants, following a Washington Post report of a deal with the Trump administration known as “Remain in Mexico,” which quoted her calling it a “short-term solution.”

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The plan, according to the newspaper, foresees migrants staying in Mexico while their asylum claims in the United States are being processed, potentially ending a system President Donald Trump decries as “catch and release” that has until now often allowed those seeking refuge to wait on safer U.S. soil.

“Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No “Releasing” into the U.S.,” Trump said in a tweet late Saturday that also threatened to close the U.S. southern border if necessary.

Sanchez, who said the situation of migrant caravans was “very delicate,” did not explicitly rule out that Mexico could keep caravan migrants on its soil while their U.S. asylum claims are processed. But she told Reuters that plans to assume “safe third country” status were “ruled out.”

If Mexico were to assume “safe third country” status, asylum seekers would be required to claim refugee status in Mexico rather than the United States.

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Migration activists have long argued that Mexico does not have the security conditions to offer safe haven for migrants feeling violence in Central America.

The article cited Mexican officials and senior members of Lopez Obrador’s transition team and said the deal would break with long-standing asylum rules and mount a new obstacle to Central American migrants attempting to seek refuge in the United States from poverty and violence.

Alison Leal Parker, U.S. managing director for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights organization, said the plan was “a pathetic attempt by the United States to shirk responsibility. Central Americans have faced serious harm in Mexico.”

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The effect, Parker said, would likely “push people fleeing for (their) lives into riskier attempts to find safety, including using criminal human smugglers who will gain power under this new policy.”

Reached for comment by Reuters, incoming deputy interior minister Zoe Robledo said details of the “Remain in Mexico” scheme were still being worked out.

“What we’re aiming for is that people leaving their countries due to security issues or violence can find a place to stay in Mexico if that is their decision,” Robledo said.

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Robledo said the incoming government wanted to find jobs for Central American migrants in sectors that are short-staffed, such as maquila assembly plants.

Lopez Obrador has vowed to try to eliminate the causes of migration by creating more jobs and improving living conditions in Mexico and Central America.

In exchange, he hopes Trump and the Canadian government will agree to help spur economic development in the region.

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Outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto has also sought to stem the flow of migrants north by offering jobs to them, and has received backing from the private sector in his efforts.

There was no immediate comment from the White House 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.

Without confirming the deal, James McCament, Homeland Security’s Acting Under Secretary for Policy, said the U.S. government has been working since the Mexican elections with its current and incoming Mexican counterparts on trade, border policy and other issues.

“We appreciate the leadership and partnership the Mexican government has shown,” McCament said.

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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 Diego Ore; additional reporting by Dave Graham and Delphine Schrank in Mexico City and Lucia Mutikani and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown and Marguerita Choy


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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WATCH: Lewandowski’s lawyer freaks out, tries to block Congress from asking any further questions

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During the House Judiciary Committee testimony of President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about the Russia investigation, Lewandowski's attorney frantically crashed the witness table and demanded that Congress stop asking questions of his client.

"Mister Chairman, as you know I am counsel for Mr. Lewandowski—" began the attorney.

"You are not a witness and you should not be seated at that table," cut in House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sharply.

"I understand that," said Lewandowski's attorney. "I will leave after I register a formal protest based upon the debate that I heard. These seem to be unauthorized questions and I know you choose your words carefully—"

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Lewandowski’s testimony will let Democrats build Nixon-like articles of impeachment: Ex-prosecutor

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As President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski combatively testified before the House Judiciary Committee, he admitted that Trump asked him to communicate to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation must be shut down. Aside from that revelation, most of the testimony was unproductive, with Lewandowski lashing out at members of Congress and running interference for the president.

But as former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote on Twitter, these outbursts — and the fact that Trump sanctioned the way that Lewandowski behaved in the hearing — could be the basis for Democrats to write up articles of impeachment against Trump similar to those drafted against Richard Nixon in 1974:

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Putin aims a weaponized barb at Trump over Saudi attack – and hits the mark

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Russian President Vladimir Putin joked this week about selling defense systems to Riyadh following weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The gag was aimed at US President Donald Trump and it hit the mark with the precision of a guided weapon.

It was a masterful piece of trolling by the czar of trolls – a snide, disparaging jibe with an element of truth twisted into absurdity for maximum effect and laughs. At a joint press conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Ankara on Monday, Putin cast his bait into the volatile Persian Gulf region just days after devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities exposed the limits of the Gulf kingdom’s expensive defense systems.

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