Story at a glance
- A bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Guatemala could result in Mexicans joining other Central American immigrants in being deported to Guatemala to await legal outcomes.
- Critics have stated that Guatemala can be more dangerous than Mexico.
- A reported 43 asylum seekers from Central American countries were deported to Guatemala.
Mexican asylum seekers who await court hearings and legal outcomes could be deported to Guatemala under a bilateral agreement signed by both Guatemala and the U.S.
The agreement was signed in July of 2019 by President Trump and the former Guatemala government, according to reports. It took effect that November, and staff at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were notified via email.
By December 2019, 43 asylum seekers from other Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador were subject to this agreement and deported to Guatemala. Now, Mexican immigrants are set to join the populations that are “amenable” to the Guatemalan agreement.
Limiting immigration from the U.S.’s southern border and tightening security in the area has been a cornerstone in Trump’s policies. This bilateral agreement with Guatemala, along with the Migrant Protection Protocols or the “Remain in Mexico” policy, in which immigrants and asylum seekers are forced to await legal proceedings in Mexico, are aimed at reducing Central American migration to the U.S.
Critics of the agreement warn that Guatemala is dangerous, with the murder rate per capita being 5 times that of the U.S.
Speaking with Buzzfeed News, an anonymous asylum officer states that “Mexico is dangerous; Guatemala is even more so. This expansion of the [agreement] continues to prevent legitimate asylum seekers from having their cases heard by the U.S. and foists them upon the Guatemalan system, which has about a dozen staff.”
The only way a migrant can be excepted from the agreement is if they can provide that they will “more likely than not” be persecuted upon being sent to Guatemala.