President Trump and the media are focused on an organized caravan of Central Americans traversing Mexico en route to the United States ostensibly to ask to be admitted for asylum. This, it turns out is an annual affair around Easter when weather improves the conditions for travel. But unlike previous years, a spotlight has been cast on the group by the president.
Mexico, which has allowed the Central Americans to enter its country is going through the motions of heeding U.S. concerns by announcing that they are screening the convoy participants for possible asylum in Mexico and issuing permits for temporary stays in Mexico to others. News articles note that Mexico’s record in accommodating Central Americans as refugees is not generous. But, offers of asylum by Mexico would not be significant because the Central Americans are aiming for el Norte (the U.S.). They are attracted by their friends and relatives who have preceded them in the illegal trek north. They believe they will not be denied entry, and will be released long before they receive an asylum hearing, and that they will be able to begin work here.
The question that is posed by this situation is, if these Central Americans have been given an opportunity to stay in Mexico as asylees, why should they be allowed to subsequently ask for asylum in the U.S.? The standard for a grant of asylum is codified in international law and practice. So, if they have been denied asylum in Mexico – which implies that the Mexican government does not believe that they would be subject to persecution if sent back to their home country – why would we not give credence to that finding and refuse them entry?