Shifting asylum ‘burden’: U.S. sends Guatemala first Honduran migrant

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GUATEMALA CITY (Information) – The primary international asylum-seeker arrived in Guatemala on Thursday from El Paso, Texas, beneath a U.S. settlement that establishes it as a so-called protected third nation to course of individuals fleeing persecution of their homelands.

Guatemalan migrants stroll on the tarmac after being deported from U.S., at La Aurora Worldwide airport in Guatemala Metropolis, Guatemala November 21, 2019. Information/Luis Echeverria

This system, just like European ones that push asylum seekers to Turkey, is a coverage achievement for U.S. President Donald Trump. He has made cracking down on immigration a central plank of his 2020 re-election marketing campaign.

The arrival of the Honduran man, Erwin Ardon, within the Guatemalan capital marks a historic shift in how the USA treats individuals looking for asylum protections, away from the nation’s historic embrace of refugees.

Democrats and activists say it’s irresponsible to ship weak individuals to hunt shelter in Guatemala, with its excessive homicide charges, tiny asylum system and weak rule of regulation.

Guatemalan Inside Minister Enrique Degenhart mentioned his authorities would course of anyone who wished to use for asylum, however famous that United Nations immigration and asylum businesses can be liable for offering shelter throughout their keep.

Degenhart beforehand instructed Information he anticipated among the returnees would go house to El Salvador and Honduras. The U.N. Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM) mentioned this week the USA had supplied it with $10 million to assist migrants voluntarily return from Guatemala to their homelands.

“The (Honduran asylum-seeker) who arrived requires shelter and we’re working with organizations to supply this assist,” IOM spokeswoman Melissa Vega mentioned in an interview.

Ardon’s official paperwork with Guatemala’s migration company confirmed his authorization to remain within the nation will expire in three days, in line with a duplicate of the doc seen by Information.

Vega mentioned Ardon is not going to be looking for asylum in Guatemala, however might be transported to Honduras beneath the IOM program, which additionally consists of short-term meals and medical care. He is because of endure a medical analysis, together with a psychological examine, to make sure he’s match to journey, the IOM mentioned.

Degenhart mentioned extra flights from the USA carrying international asylum-seekers are anticipated subsequent week, however that it was not clear what number of can be returned.

The brand new effort started after the U.S. authorities brokered an settlement with Guatemala in July. The deal permits U.S. immigration officers to make migrants requesting asylum on the U.S.-Mexican border apply for asylum in Guatemala first.

The Trump administration has labored to limit asylum entry in the USA to curb the variety of largely Central American households arriving on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump has beforehand mentioned the USA is “full” and has typically described would-be asylum seekers and different migrants as susceptible to committing violent crime.

U.S. officers this week mentioned this system initially can be utilized in El Paso. A primary section will goal adults from Honduras and El Salvador and the purpose might be to course of them inside 72 hours, in line with the officers.

Critics contend asylum seekers face hazard in Guatemala, the place the homicide fee is 5 instances that of the USA, in line with 2017 information compiled by the World Financial institution.

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Refugees Worldwide, an advocacy group, argues that Trump is looking for to “shift the burden” of processing asylum seekers to nations like Guatemala, from which greater than 100,000 fled to hunt U.S. asylum final yr.

“The nations in Central America aren’t protected to return refugees to,” mentioned Yael Schacher, an advocate with Refugees Worldwide, in an interview. “These are refugee-producing nations and so they aren’t in a position to obtain refugees proper now, they don’t have the capability to course of asylum seekers.”

Guatemalan President-elect Alejandro Giammattei, who takes workplace in January, has mentioned he’ll evaluation the settlement.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Further reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Enhancing by Frank Jack Daniel, Lisa Shumaker and Richard Chang