Honduras signed a deal with the U.S. government on Wednesday that could push migrants who cross the country on the way to the United States back to seek asylum, in the latest bilateral deal with Central American countries aimed at curbing migration.
Wednesday’s “safe third country”-type deal is similar to agreements signed by El Salvador on September 20 and Guatemala on July 26. The countries have released few details about how the agreements would be implemented.
Solving the crisis at the border means working with our neighbors in the region. Honduras has been a great partner. Today we signed a bilateral agreement to build stronger asylum capabilities in the Northern Triangle and further enhance asylum and protection capacity in Honduras. pic.twitter.com/oLENvMJaqh
— Acting Sec. Kevin McAleenan (@DHSMcAleenan) 25 de septiembre de 2019
The Honduras deal “will allow migrants to seek protection as close to home as possible,” said a senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official who told reporters about the deal in a conference call on condition of anonymity. The official did not say why he did not want to be named.
The Trump administration is moving forward with a July 16 rule that would bar most migrants from gaining U.S. asylum if they did not seek safe haven in a country they transited through first.
Yesterday’s agreement with El Salvador is another step toward strong regional partnerships on migration. These partnerships aim to provide protections close to home and end the crisis at the border. Link to video: https://t.co/vEByjIQ82r pic.twitter.com/XBCD7mv7Rj
— Acting Sec. Kevin McAleenan (@DHSMcAleenan) 21 de septiembre de 2019
The rule, which accomplishes virtually the same thing being sought by the agreements, has faced legal challenges, however. A federal court initially blocked it from taking effect but the U.S. Supreme Court on September 11 allowed it to be implemented while the court challenges are ongoing.
Today, President Trump announced a safe third country agreement with Guatemala that will put human smugglers out of business and provide safety for legitimate asylum seekers. pic.twitter.com/ENAifXfvRz
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) 26 de julio de 2019
The bulk of migrants—mostly families—arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are from the three northern triangle countries and many turn themselves in to border officials to ask for asylum in the United States.