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Sen. Lee urges Trump to seek '3rd-country agreement' with Mexico on migrant caravan. Here's what would entail

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Chuck Grassley want the Trump administration to consider a "third-country agreement" with Mexico requiring the growing migrant caravan to seek asylum there rather than in the U.S.

The senators wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday that the treaty would "send a message to our partners across Central America that they too must share the burden of unsanctioned mass migration."

Lee and Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an agreement would be an appropriate next step because it is rooted in precedent, addresses national security concerns and serves the best interests of Americans.

An estimated 7,000 Central American immigrants are making their way through Mexico to the U.S. border.

In 2002, the U.S. and Canada agreed to cooperate in examining refugee status claims from nationals of third countries. The "third-country agreement" requires those seeking refugee status to make their claim in the country in which they arrive first.

"Given our shared land borders with both Canada and Mexico, and the decadelong surge of illegal immigration across our southern border, such an agreement is both appropriate and just," according to the senators.

Lee and Grassley wrote that Central American asylum seekers are not the only ones in the caravan. They cite a 2017 Politico report that showed Hezbollah and its networks have trafficked drugs, weapons and people from Venezuela and other parts of Latin American to the U.S.

Guatemala's recent announcement of the apprehension of 100 ISIS terrorists in the country raises new security concerns about whether similar high-risk individuals may have joined the caravan, the senators said.

"Due to the likelihood that such national security threats could mask themselves within this large caravan population, at a minimum, our federal government must prioritize the security of American citizens over anything else," Lee and Grassley wrote.

The senators say accepting the migrant caravan into the U.S. would add thousands of cases to the existing backlog of asylum cases, "and send a message to future populations that the United States has open borders, all funded off the backs of American taxpayers and legal immigrants."