Monday, July 29, 2019

US/Guatemala Sign "Safe Third Country" Agreement, Impact Uncertain

President Trump is following up on efforts to deny asylum eligibility to Central Americans who travel through countries on the way to the United States where they might have applied for asylum.

On Friday, the White House announced that the United States and Guatemala have signed a "Safe Third Country agreement" requiring that asylum seekers traveling through Guatemala on their way to the United States be returned to Guatemala and forced to first seek relief there. The agreement would not apply to unaccompanied children or Guatemalans but would apply to many other asylum seekers who cross through Guatemala en route to the United States.  AP reports on the agreement here.

Here is the agreement. Download Guatemala Cooperative Agreement with Signature Blocks (ENG) (1)

If implemented, the deal would send many Central Americans back to Guatemala to apply for asylum in a country where there arguably is no system equipped to handle their requests and where they face serious threats of harm.

The following statement is from Royce Murray, managing director of programs at the American Immigration Council

“Today’s agreement between the United States and Guatemala could put thousands of lives at risk and threatens the very foundations of our asylum system. Guatemala’s under-resourced asylum system cannot realistically process large numbers of asylum seekers nor provide them a full and fair opportunity to make their claims for protection. 

“A Safe Third Country agreement with Guatemala is yet another attack on our asylum system and demonstrates the Trump administration’s heavy-handed and relentless effort to turn away asylum seekers at the border. No person should be forced to seek protection in a country ill-equipped to hear their claims and that fails to protect its own citizens.”


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