MEXICO CITY — Leaders of the incoming Mexican government, who are under pressure to deal with thousands of migrants at the border awaiting entry into the United States, plan to meet as early as Sunday to discuss options to cope with the problem, the incoming foreign minister said.
Over the last several months, the numbers of migrants at the border have surged as Central Americans and others fleeing violence and poverty are trapped in a processing bottleneck with American border officials. As thousands await entry to begin the process, migrant shelters and local and state resources have been overwhelmed.
Discussions have been ongoing for several months on how to deal with the backlog, but these talks became even more urgent in recent weeks as the number of migrants appearing at certain border crossings has risen sharply. Many have traveled in caravan-style groups of a few thousand. In the past two weeks alone, some 5,000 migrants, mostly from Central America, have arrived in the northern Mexican border city of Tijuana. Many of them say they intend to seek asylum in the United States.
The incoming foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, cautioned that no decision had been reached at this point.
Among the proposals that officials will discuss is a possible allowance for asylum seekers to remain on the Mexican side of the border while they await a decision from the United States. The reality now for the government of Mexico, however, is that those migrants, who are being processed at a rate as low as 40 a day by United States border officials, are already here and have nowhere else to go.
“What exists is a conversation about what do to with 9,000 people that are going to remain in Tijuana for a year,” Mr. Ebrard, who will take office on Dec. 1, said on Saturday. “What we are trying to think about is how to organize this, but we still have not found the response.”
The meeting scheduled for Sunday will include Mr. Ebrard along with the incoming interior minister, Olga Sanchez Cordero, and other top officials in the government of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. News of the proposal to allow asylum applicants to remain in Mexico while they await a decision from United States courts was first reported by The Washington Post.
The United States had suggested turning Mexico into a so-called “safe third country,” which would require migrants who pass through Mexico with the intention of applying for asylum in the United States to petition for sanctuary in Mexico instead. But the incoming government has been against this proposal from the beginning.
“We still do not have a specific proposal from the United States,” Mr. Ebrard said. “We are still against the safe third country, but this theme is something distinct and because of that we are analyzing it with care.”
Ron Nixon contributed reporting from Washington.
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