While the possibility of an agreement between the United States and Mexico on a safe third country has not attracted much public attention in both countries, the Trump administration has consistently advanced the idea of Mexican officials. The initiative began in April, when hundreds of migrants travelling in a caravan crossed from Mexico to the United States. Homeland Security Minister Kirstjen Nielsen issued a statement this month saying the Department of Homeland Security “encourages people with asylum or similar claims to seek protection in the first safe country they enter, including Mexico.” Nielsen repeated this message during his may 15 testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee. This encouragement eventually became a more restrictive political proposal, in which U.S. and Mexican officials discussed a possible agreement on safe third countries during U.S. officials` trip to Mexico in May and a trip in July. The United States and Canada also recognize that “the United States and Canada offer generous refugee protection systems.” Canadian supporters have asked a question in Canadian courts (still in the discovery phase) about whether the Trump administration`s policy toward refugees and asylum seekers had not made the United States “safe” under the agreement. In general, however, both countries have well-developed management systems for reviewing refugee claims. In both countries, the appropriateness of a formal procedure in these systems is subject to judicial review. Such an agreement, as the name suggests, would qualify Mexico as a safe country for the reception of asylum seekers and would prohibit almost any asylum seeker who sets foot on Mexican soil from filing an application at a later date in the United States. The United States has already reached an agreement with Canada – the 2002 Safe Third Country Agreement – which came into force in 2004 and requires asylum seekers arriving in one of the two countries to assert their rights in their first country of arrival. Any U.S. agreement with Mexico will likely be drawn from this plan or other international precedents.
These include the Dublin Regulation, which requires asylum seekers arriving in the European Union to register their applications in the first country of arrival and the 2016 agreement that sends Syrians back to Turkey when they arrive in Greece via the Mediterranean.