“This ‘does not mean that the border is open”,
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State.
WASHINGTON D.C. (Times Media Mexico) – The United States announced that it had ended the asylum cooperation agreements with the Northern Triangle of Central America -Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador- and signed for the countries to receive deported migrants of other nationalities in their territories.
The announcement was made in a press release by Antony Blinken, Secretary of the U.S. Department of State, who said that the three countries’ governments had been notified.
“The United States has suspended and initiated the process to terminate the Asylum Cooperation Agreements with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as the first concrete steps on the path toward greater partnership and collaboration in the region outlined by President Biden,” Blinken said.
“The February 2 Executive Order is aimed at creating a comprehensive regional framework to address the root causes of migration, manage migration in the North and Central America, and provide safe and orderly processes for asylum seekers at the U.S. border, the President set an ambitious course to work with our partners – governments, international and non-governmental organization partners, civil society and the private sector – to build more resilient societies across the region,” the statement said.
The Guatemalan government announced Friday that it received official notification from the U.S. government terminating the agreement, known as Safe Third Country. Of the three countries, only Guatemala implemented the agreement, unilaterally suspending it in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
“The agreements with El Salvador and Honduras were never implemented,” the U.S. government said.
The first Bilateral Asylum Cooperation Agreement – known as “The Safe Third Country Agreement – was signed in July 2019 between Donald Trump’s administration and that of former Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales under total secrecy and with strong criticism from human rights organizations. After the signing with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador followed.
In the case of Guatemala, according to the Migration Institute, from November 2019 to March 2020, 579 Hondurans and 360 Salvadorans were deported to Guatemala, including 357 children, of whom the vast majority arrived and left the country immediately for their countries of origin. Upon arrival in Guatemala, 57 people applied for asylum, but only 20 submitted formal applications, and so far, none have been granted.
“To be clear, these actions do not mean that the U.S. border is open. While we are committed to expanding legal avenues for protection and opportunity here and in the region, the United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced,” said Blinken.
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