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Ambassador Garza: Barr's decision on asylum bail may backfire

Ambassador Antonio Garza says Attorney General Barr's decision to revoke bail to asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border may actually encourage Central Americans to move north. Watch on Bloomberg

" I think General Barr’s decision to date may actually exasperate the situation. As you might imagine. He announced it with a 90-day period implementation that will likely be subject to some legal challenges. As a practical matter you have some real logistical challenges in terms of detaining additional numbers of asylum applicants. Retention capacity is nearly full and these asylum applicants, 60% of them are either families or unaccompanied minors so you also will run into the limitation as to how long you can hold, I believe it’s 20 days that you can hold these minors. I think there are both logistical and legal hurdles that we’ll have to clear, but in the meantime what people in Central America will be seeing is an additional incentive to move north prior to the implementation of this order."

"I think that it actually may be something that tactically on its face appears to be an enforcement mechanism but may backfire in terms of the reality of it. It’s not too unlike what we saw in the wake of the attempt to deny asylum applications in November of last year. The metering, which only allowed very small numbers of people to seek asylum at legal crossings forcing them to move the illegal route to the United States, render themselves and make application, or quite frankly the wait in Mexico, return to Mexico. Now that is also subject to a court challenge so you know sometimes what looks good on its face in terms of the incentives it creates for people to be moving north, it actually I think may spur additional movements."


Ambassador Antonio Garza served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from 2002 to 2009. He currently serves as Counsel in the Mexico City office of White & Case LLP. Additionally, Ambassador Garza is Chairman of Vianovo Ventures, a management consultancy with a focus on cross-border business development.


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