American Quakers have described a new US policy under which Central Americans seeking asylum in the US have to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed as "illegal, immoral and [a] violation of human rights".

In a statement issued on Friday, the American Friends Service Committee - a Quaker organisation that is providing humanitarian support for migrants from the so-called 'human caravans' which have arrived in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, denounced the new policy introduced by the Trump administration under which Central Americans will be returned to Mexico while their claims are processed.

Kathryn Johnson, policy advocacy coordinator for the AFSC, said migrants have a right to seek asylum in the US and to remain in the US while their claims are processed.

“This policy – which is a clear violation of both US and international law – puts asylum seekers in danger and goes directly against Congress’ intent to protect vulnerable people from persecution.”

The AFSC said two Honduran teenagers who were travelling with the migrant caravan were killed when they left a shelter for underage migrants in Tijuana.

Karen Romero, an AFSC consultant based in Tijuana, pointed out that the asylum process can take years.

"We wonder what people will do as they wait...The majority of shelters are already full of Mexican nationals who have been returned from the US, internally displaced people, and Central Americans from the caravans. This situation will pose a huge challenge to the shelters to provide support. If the Mexican government is accepting asylum seekers who are being returned from the US, the Mexican Government must provide a plan to guarantee humanitarian assistance and safety without overburdening civil society.”