Mexico not ready for safe-third-country agreement with U.S. – ambassador

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mexico is not ready to sign a safe-third-country agreement with the Trump administration regarding asylum seekers at their shared border, the Mexican ambassador to the United States said on Thursday ahead of a Monday deadline.

Martha Barcena, speaking at an event in Washington, said the United States must speed up its processing of asylum claims and that migrants cannot wait in Mexico for three years waiting for U.S. action.

She also rejected the administration’s sweeping new asylum rules announced on Monday that bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border by requiring them to first pursue safe haven in a third country through which they had traveled on the way to the United States.

Barcena said she interprets the new rules as not sending migrants to Mexico but rather to their countries of origin.

Monday is the deadline set by U.S. President Trump last month to negotiate third country status if Mexico did not do enough to stem flow of certain migrants to the United States.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Bill Trott

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