The Latest: Asylum seekers ask to wait in US, not Mexico
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The Latest: Asylum seekers ask to wait in US, not Mexico

SAN DIEGO — The Latest on initial hearings for asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration court (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Several asylum seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration court have told a judge they fear returning to Mexico until their next hearings.

The seven cases heard Tuesday in San Diego were among the first asylum seekers subject to a major policy shift that the Trump administration launched in January. Their initial appearances come three days before a federal judge in San Francisco hears arguments by advocacy groups to halt enforcement.

Attorney Robyn Barnard, who represented two Honduran men, asked for access to any interviews their clients may have with U.S. officials about whether their fears of returning to Mexico are well-founded.

An attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement voiced no opposition but deferred to other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.

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11 a.m.

The first scheduled hearings under a new Trump administration policy to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts will be held Tuesday in San Diego.

The initial appearances come three days before a federal judge in San Francisco hears arguments by advocacy groups to halt enforcement of the policy, which went into effect Jan. 29 in San Diego and was expanded last week to Calexico, California.

Administration officials say they intend to expand the policy along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

The shift comes as more asylum-seeking families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador arrive at the U.S. border.

The change has been introduced slowly, with an average of 40 people a week being returned to Tijuana from San Diego in the first six weeks.

Mexico has agreed to accept up to 120 a week.

The Associated Press

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