The Mexican government has refused to take back invaders who are not Mexican citizens—even if they entered the U.S. from Mexico.
The announcement was made by interior secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong to visiting U.S. emissaries in Mexico at the end of last week.
Chong said in an interview with Radio Formula that the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, had asked Mexican officials if they would host deportees from other countries while their immigration cases are processed in the U.S.
“They can’t leave them here on the border because we have to reject them. There is no chance they would be received by Mexico,” he said.
“They asked us that while their legal process is happening there if they could be here,” Osorio Chong said. “And we told them that there’s no way we can have them here during that process.”
A memo published by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this week suggested that U.S. immigration officials could deport invaders in the country illegally to the contiguous country they had entered from, which in the vast majority of cases would be Mexico.
The memo said that releasing detained, third-country nationals “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived” would save on detention and adjudication resources. The idea would be to keep them out “pending their hearings” on deportation, the fact sheet said.
Most of the invaders crossing the U.S.–Mexico border in recent years have been Central Americans.
“We told them that our legal framework doesn’t allow this. We told them it is impossible. There is no way, legally, nor is there capacity,” Chong said.
According to U.S. Border Patrol statistics, in the 2016 Fiscal Year, border agents recorded 191,000 illegal Mexican invaders along the Southwest frontier—but in the same year, it registered 218,000 detentions of non-Mexican nationals, most of them Central Americans.
He added that if the U.S. government tries to pressure Mexico by threatening to withdraw funding from the nearly $2.5bn Mérida Initiative to fight organized crime, Mexico “will let that money go.”
The initiative that was started in 2008 is winding down with most remaining funding going to Mexican states implementing reforms to the justice system, Chong said.
In its early years, Mérida outfitted Mexico’s military with helicopters and trained its security forces.
“If that resource could be an issue for pressure or if they want to pressure the government, honestly, we have no problem, none, if they withdraw it,” he said.