The United States sent the first Central American asylum seeker back to Mexico through a crossing at the border city of Tijuana on Tuesday, Mexican authorities said, as part of the Trump administration's hardened immigration policy.
The return of a Honduran man was carried out under a US policy dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) by which the United States will return non-Mexican migrants who cross the US southern border back to Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in US immigration courts.
Asylum seekers have traditionally been granted the right to stay in the United States while their cases were decided by an immigration judge, but a backlog of more than 800,000 cases means the process can take years.
US authorities are expected to send as many as 20 people per day through the Mexican border city of Tijuana and gradually start sending people back through the other legal ports of entry, Mexico's foreign ministry has said.
Mexico has said it will accept the return of certain people who have a date to appear in a U.S. court, but will reject those who have health problems, are unaccompanied minors or would be in danger in Mexican territory.