San Diego

First Migrant Sent to Mexico to Await US Asylum Claim Under New Policy

A Honduran migrant seeking protection in the United States was the first to be sent back to Mexico Tuesday under a new U.S. policy as his asylum claim is processed. 

Under the new policy, announced by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in remarks to Congress last week, immigrants without proper documentation will wait in Mexico until a U.S. judge can hear their claim. 

Previous U.S. policy permitted applicants to be released into the U.S., often with ankle monitors, while their cases wind through an overwhelmed system of immigration courts. 

Under the new policy, asylum seekers will be bussed to the border while waiting for their appointment with a judge, who will either grant their asylum claim and allow them into the U.S. or deny their claim and return them to their home country. 

Mexican officials said migrants will only be allowed to cross back to Mexico through the El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana.

Only adult migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador will be given four-month visas to stay in Mexico as they wait, Mexican officials said.

Telemundo 20's cameras were rolling as the first migrant was escorted by National Mexican Institute immigration agents into Mexico.

His only reply to requests for comment was that he was originally from Honduras.

Mexico's cooperation with U.S. officials marks a historic one as the country has traditionally refused to accept into their country the return of any migrants who are not Mexican. 

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said last week the move is a temporary, humanitarian measure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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