US offers to triple temporary farmworker visas for Guatemalans

US offers to triple temporary farmworker visas for Guatemalans

A White House official said Monday that the U.S. could triple the number of temporary farmworker visas available to Guatemalans as the Trump administration seeks to finish implementing a deal that would require Guatemala to accept refugees from Honduras and El Salvador. 

Reuters reported Monday that White House Latin America adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone made the offer Monday during a press conference at the U.S. ambassador's residence, while not specifying when or if such a plan would be implemented. Last year, about 4,000 Guatemalans were reportedly granted H-2A visas.

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“We could help Guatemala by tripling the H-2A program,” he said, according to the news service.

Claver-Carone reportedly added that Guatemala's incoming government headed by Alejandro Giammattei would enter into an agreement with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) to process refugees within its borders instead of allowing Salvadorans and Hondurans to proceed north through Mexico to the U.S.

“UNHCR should be part of the process and the development of the agreement. We’re counting on it,” he said.

It's unclear whether Giammattei will follow through with implementing the so-called safe third country agreement, according to the news service, due to his previous criticism of the deal and his insistence that it must pass through the country's congress to be legal.

Giammattei bashed the deal in comments last week, adding that it won't work for his country.

“In order to be a safe country, one has to be certified as such by an international body, and I do not think Guatemala fulfills the requirements to be a third safe country. That definition doesn’t fit us,” Giammattei told the AP.

“If we do not have the capacity for our own people, just imagine other people," he added.