Published: Sun, July 28, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

US Signs Immigration Deal With Guatemala to Put 'Smugglers Out of Business'

US Signs Immigration Deal With Guatemala to Put 'Smugglers Out of Business'

"The Trump administration must abandon this cruel and illegal plan", Amnesty's director for the Americas, Charanya Krishnaswami, said in a statement.

The concept of a "third safe country" comes from the United Nations' 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines a refugee as an "individual who is unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on his or her race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group".

Central Americans arriving in caravans at the USA southern border have overwhelmed the American system for those seeking asylum, most specifically Salvadorans and Hondurans.

The new deal with Guatemala will not effect Guatemalans themselves who flee north.

The agreement will last for two years and its implementation will be reviewed every three months, the Guatemalan government said.

The agreement would require migrants, including Salvadorans and Hondurans, who cross into Guatemala on their way to the U.S.to apply for protections in Guatemala instead of at the USA border. Congresswoman Norma Torres said "the Guatemalan government has chosen to defy the will of its own people to curry favor with the Trump administration" and called the move an "an insult to common sense". "If they do instead, in the hands of smugglers, make the journey all the way to the US border, [they would] be removable back to Guatemala".

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2019.

According to US President Donald Trump, the agreement would allow migrants "easier access" to work on US farms and ranches, Reuters reported.

McAleenan said the agreement will increase the integrity of the US asylum process, keep smugglers out of the process, and help those who have legitimate asylum claims to file them sooner. "These are bad people". And that's where they should make that claim'.

Last week a deal fell through with Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales. But Guatemala's Constitutional Court blocked the Guatemalan President from signing the agreement.

In response, Trump threatened Guatemala in a tweet on Tuesday. And, just like that, there is now a deal.

"It's risky to label an entire country as unsafe".

Until then, Hirono said the USA should not make the lives of migrants more hard than they already are. Guatemalan nationals living overseas sent back $9.5 billion (£7.4bn; €8.2bn) in 2018 - 12% of the country's GDP, according to the World Bank.

While the U.S. side has referred to the deal as a "third safe country" agreement, the government of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has refrained from calling it as such. Anyone failing to do so would be sent back to Guatemala.

Department of Homeland Security officials said they expected the agreement to be ratified in Guatemala and would begin implementing it sometime in August. It does not call the agreement "safe third country", but "Co-operation Agreement for the Assessment of Protection Requests".

A migration pact with the United States drew sharply mixed reactions in Guatemala on Saturday, as business groups welcomed it for helping avoid U.S. punitive measures while rights groups called it "cruel and illegal".

Claudia Samayoa, the founder and director of Udefegua, a human rights group in Guatemala, called the agreement "illegal", saying Guatemala did not meet the conditions required for a "third safety country" under worldwide law.

But critics said that the law clearly requires the "safe third" country to be a truly safe place where migrants will not be in danger. Critics insisted that Guatemala meets neither requirement.

As Refugees International has previously stated, Guatemala is in no way safe for refugees and asylum seekers, and all the strong-arming in the world won't make it so.

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