Friday, November 1, 2019

The Trump administration to begin sending asylum seekers to Guatemala as soon as this week

Nick Miroff/TWP
The Trump administration is preparing to finalize an agreement this week to begin sending asylum seekers from the U.S. border to Guatemala, implementing a deal the two countries reached in July, according to three people with knowledge of the plan.
The pact gives the Department of Homeland Security the ability to send asylum seekers to Guatemala if they do not seek protection there while transiting through the country en route to the U.S. border. It could mean that migrants from numerous countries will make the dangerous journey to the United States only to be sent back to Central America upon reaching U.S. territory.
Homeland Security officials plan to start sending Hondurans and Salvadorans to Guatemala soon after the implementation of the deal, according to the three people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue.
Guatemala’s highest court initially ruled that the asylum accord could not go forward without the approval of Guatemala’s congress, but a subsequent decision left open the possibility that outgoing President Jimmy Morales could implement the deal without lawmakers’ approval.
Morales is due to leave office in January. Guatemala’s president-elect, Alejandro Giammattei, has criticized the deal, but Trump officials reiterated this month that the United States will slash government assistance if Guatemala backs out.
Nick Miroff/TWP
Kevin McAleenan, who plans to step down as acting DHS secretary as soon as Thursday, has secured similar agreements with Honduras and El Salvador, but those deals have not been implemented. Mc­Aleenan has said the agreements will be implemented gradually to avoid overwhelming Central American nations that until now have typically received few asylum applications from those fleeing persecution.
McAleenan has argued that vulnerable migrants should not have to travel all the way to the United States to find safety, and that the U.S. immigration system has been overwhelmed in recent years amid a flood of applications from Central American economic migrants making humanitarian claims to avoid deportation.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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