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  • Central American migrants waiting in Mexico while their asylum requests are being processed under a new U.S. policy.

    Central American migrants waiting in Mexico while their asylum requests are being processed under a new U.S. policy. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 March 2019

Migrant Protections Protocols (MPP) threaten to overwhelm migrant shelters, which Mexican officials point out are already underfunded.

The United States is considering extending the controversial Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) project, an experimental policy that sends Central American asylum-seekers to Mexico while their court dates are processed. 

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MPP also threatens to overwhelm migrant shelters, which Mexican officials point out are already underfunded. The U.S. transference of responsibility could possibly be attributed to the desire to avoid any further backlash for the conditions and alleged abuse at the migrant facilities.

The program has already been implemented in San Diego-Tijuana, with El Paso-Ciudad Juarez cities under consideration for the program's expansion. The border states experienced surges of migrant crossings last month. The implementation of the policy in those locations is expected in the next couple of weeks.

If implemented, Mexico's border cities are expected to face difficulties accommodating the overwhelming number of migrants who will be sent to the shelters, according to Tonatiuh Guillen, head of Mexico's National Immigration Institute (INM).

The U.S. border officials have advised Mexico to prepare to receive an average of 10 asylum-seekers a day for the next three to four months. About 700 deported Mexicans already arrive each week in Tijuana, but they usually only require accommodations for a short period of time, while migrants from Central America would need housing for much longer periods of time.

So far, the INM has reported the closing of several shelters, in five cities, because of their inability to meet minimum conditions requirements. According to Salome Lima of the Madre Asunta shelter, "the government is not considering the problem the shelters will now have to deal with," due to budget cuts.

Supporters of the policy claim that forcing migrants to wait in Mexico, as opposed to the current system which has them waiting up to years in the United States, could curb the number of asylum applications.

So far, the policy has been ineffective in Tijuana. Many asylum-seekers waiting in Tijuana shelters say their need to protect their family outweighs any attempts to deter them by having them wait in Mexico. 

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