In order to deport the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, the Trump regime is set to ship the vast majority of them to Guatemala under a new agreement.
The Trump administration is on the verge of signing a “safe third country” agreement with Guatemala, sources have confirmed to the Prospect. Asylum seekers attempting to enter the United States would be forced to file in Guatemala instead, on the grounds that it would be the first “safe” country they arrived in. Because most asylum seekers are coming from the south, this would allow the U.S. to send thousands of asylum seekers at the southern border back to Guatemala, and render them ineligible to apply for refugee status in the U.S.
Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales is scheduled to be in Washington on Monday, and an announcement of the agreement could be made then. Spokespeople for Morales have denied that the agreement is the purpose of the visit, but said that there is hope that there can be a signing ceremony.
Immigrant rights and refugee activists, as well as lawmakers, have expressed alarm that Guatemala, itself a country wracked with bouts of violence and its own population of asylum seekers, would be considered a “safe” country for migrants in search of refuge. Civil and human rights groups have suggested they would sue to block the agreement, saying it would violate international law. Three former foreign ministers have asked Guatemala’s Constitutional Court to prevent Morales from signing an agreement, arguing that it would be illegal under Guatemalan law.
“The whole idea [is] that we can take people from Honduras and El Salvador and fly them to Guatemala, where they’re absolutely in worse shape, they don’t have friends or family or funds, so they’re much more vulnerable, so they’re going from desperation to desperation,” said Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who has been a leader on border issues in the Senate.
The administration’s desire to sign a safe third country agreement with Guatemala has been known for some time. On June 17, Trump tweeted that Guatemala “is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third [sic] Country Agreement.” Guatemala’s interior minister, Enrique Degenhart, denied that the two countries had reached a deal, though negotiations are ongoing. Then, again this month, Trump said that Guatemala would be signing a safe third country agreement.
It’s just not credible to call Guatemala “safe,” says Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, an immigration and criminal justice advocacy organization.
“This requires suspending objective truth,” Schulte says. “I think people are pretty unprepared for the U.S. declaring one of the most dangerous countries in the world … that’s driving the refugee crisis, if we just say it’s totally safe and lie about it for our benefit, that would be unbelievably tragic.”
Trump of course thinks with this he can eliminate southern border crossings by asylum-seekers, or just ship them all to Guatemala anyway. Ideally, he'd start deporting people to Guatemala even if they weren't from there to begin with.
It'll fail miserably, but there's a lot of death and suffering he can cause even if he is outsourcing the ethnic cleansing.