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World US close to implementing asylum agreement with Guatemala

05:06  24 october  2019
05:06  24 october  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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President Trump announced that Guatemala is signing an agreement to restrict asylum applications to the U . S . from Central America. "It's going to be terrific for them and terrific for the United States ," Trump said, adding the agreement "will usher in a new era and investment and growth for Guatemala ."

The US signed an asylum agreement Friday afternoon with Guatemala that could limit the ability of some Central American migrants to claim asylum in the Earlier this month, the US appeared close to signing a safe-third country agreement with Guatemala . But Guatemala 's Constitutional Court

The Trump administration is close to implementing an asylum agreement with Guatemala that would limit who's eligible for asylum in the United States, according to sources familiar with the matter.

a man riding on the back of a bicycle: President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he leaves the White House, Wednesday, October 23.© Jacquelyn Martin/AP President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he leaves the White House, Wednesday, October 23.

The agreement, which President Donald Trump announced in the Oval Office in July, is part of a concerted effort by the administration to curb the flow of asylum seekers to the United States. The accord commits Guatemala to extend asylum to migrants who seek it.

Once the implementation plan is in place and logistics are firmed up, the US will begin transferring some asylum seeking migrants to Guatemala to seek protection there, according to a source familiar with the plan. There are some exceptions, such as medical issues and unaccompanied children.

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The United States and Guatemala reached an asylum agreement Friday that President Donald Trump said The United States has a similar agreement in place with Canada. " We 've long been working with Trump said he plans to implement safe third country deals with other countries soon.

“ We ’ve long been working with Guatemala and now we can do it the right way. It’s going to be terrific for them and terrific for the United States ,” Trump said “Simply put, Guatemala is not a safe country for refugees and asylum seekers, as the law requires. It lacks the asylum and protection processes

It's unclear how many people Guatemala will accept and how many will be subject to transfer.

The Department of Homeland Security told lawmakers this week that the agreement was in the final stage, but didn't specify when it would go into effect, according to a congressional aide.

Under US law, migrants are allowed to claim asylum once on US soil. There's a caveat, however, for those who come through safe third countries, meaning countries with which US has an agreement. The United Nations' refugee agency defines "safe country," in part, as "being countries in which refugees can enjoy asylum without any danger."

The US has had a safe-third agreement with Canada since 2002.

The Guatemala accord was the first of a series of similar agreements with Central American countries. In fiscal year 2019, Customs and Border Protection apprehended and deemed inadmissible nearly 1 million people -- the majority of whom were from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

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The US signed an asylum agreement Friday afternoon with Guatemala that could limit the ability of some Central American migrants to claim asylum in the Earlier this month, the US appeared close to signing a safe-third country agreement with Guatemala . But Guatemala ’s Constitutional Court

We have long been working with Guatemala and now we can do it the right way.” Democrats criticized the decision on Friday. Department of Homeland Security officials said they expected the agreement to be ratified in Guatemala and would begin implementing it sometime in August.

Outgoing acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan shepherded the agreements in recent months, taking a number of trips down to Central America. A source familiar with McAleenan's thinking told CNN that he is proud of working with the governments of Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries.

"It felt like the layers are now in place to prevent a similar surge sparking this fall," the source said.

Earlier this summer, Guatemala's Constitutional Court blocked the Guatemalan President from signing the accord amid pressure from Trump to come to an agreement. The court later gave the green light for the deal to move forward, though it's unclear how the administration change in Guatemala will impact the implementation.

Immigrant advocates have pushed back on the asylum agreements, arguing that they put migrants in harm's way and betray the US commitment to protecting vulnerable populations.

Amnesty International USA advocacy director for the Americas Charanya Krishnaswami called the agreement between the US and Guatemala "outrageous" following its announcement earlier this year.

"The United States government knows well that conditions there are dangerous. With high levels of violence and impunity, weak institutions, and an asylum system the United States' own State Department has noted is deficient, there is no doubt that Guatemala should not be considered a safe place of refuge," Krishnaswami said in a statement.

Honduras joins El Salvador in obtaining protected status extension in U.S. .
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