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  • Migrants after crossing the border from Mexico to surrender to U.S officials in El Paso, Texas, Dec. 3, 2018.

    Migrants after crossing the border from Mexico to surrender to U.S officials in El Paso, Texas, Dec. 3, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 January 2019

The "Migrant Protection Protocols" requires asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico throughout immigration proceedings.

The United States government will return the first group of Central American asylum-seekers to Tijuana, Mexico Friday, where thousands of migrants have been waiting for months for an opportunity to enter the U.S. legally.

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According to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), migrants may be returned to Mexico to wait outside of the United States for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Children traveling alone and some "vulnerable" migrants could be excluded on a case-by-case basis.

The U.S. Department of Home Security claims that the objective of the MPP program is to reduce the number of Central American families arriving to the southern frontier.

"MPP will reduce the number of aliens taking advantage of U.S. law and discourage false asylum claims.  Aliens will not be permitted to disappear into the U.S. before a court issues a final decision on whether they will be admitted and provided protection under U.S. law.  Instead, they will await a determination in Mexico,"  the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a release, adding that "MPP will reduce the extraordinary strain on our border security and immigration system, freeing up personnel and resources to better protect our sovereignty."

A spokesman for the Mexican Foreign Ministry said, however, that Mexico will not accept anyone belonging to vulnerable groups, having a well-founded persecution fear or requiring special attention.

Illegal border crossings have drastically declined from their highest level in previous decades. However, in recent years, more families from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have been migrating to the United States and asylum applications have skyrocketed.

Last year, about 93,000 people sought asylum at the United States southern border, 67 percent more than in 2017. According to the Mexican government, almost 10,000 people integrated the migrant caravans.

Several thousand are still in northern Mexico, others returned to their countries of origin and some even lost their lives.

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