The White House announced today that Guatemala had signed a safe third country asylum agreement with the United States in an effort to solve two of the countries’ biggest problems. But questions remain as legal hurdles may present themselves in both countries.
.@realDonaldTrump: The United States and Guatemala have reached an agreement on asylum. The agreement was just signed in the Oval Office.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 26, 2019
A safe third country agreement is intended to help prevent asylum seekers from bypassing other countries to come to the United States. If someone crosses through Guatemala to claim asylum in the United States, their asylum petition will, in theory, be automatically denied.
Guatemala gets three important benefits. Signing agreement means President Trump will back down from threats to impose tariffs and other economic penalties on the Central American nation. It also promises to assist Guatemala with investments from America. Lastly, it has provisions that will make it easier for farm workers from Guatemala to come to the United States legally. The details of these benefits have not been released.
But the courts in both countries may have a say in whether or not the agreement will be enacted. According to NPR:
Earlier this month, Guatemala’s high court blocked its government from signing the deal with the United States, which led to Trump’s threats.
Trump said another component of the deal will make it easier for Guatemalans to legally come to the U.S. as farm workers. He said other countries would also soon be signing similar asylum agreements with the U.S.
Refugees International President Eric Schwartz said Guatemala is “in no way safe for refugees and asylum seekers.” He said the agreement “also violates U.S. law and will put some of the most vulnerable people in Central America in grave danger. At the moment, it is not clear exactly what arrangement has been reached in light of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court’s provisional decision against a third country agreement.”
This is a great first step in helping both countries solve their problems. If the courts are prevented from blocking the agreement, we should see big changes at the border in coming weeks as many asylum claims will be instantly denied.
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