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Trump Threatens Guatemala with Tariffs and “Bans” for Backing Out of Immigration Deal

— July 23, 2019

Trump lashed out against the Guatemalan government for refusing a deal, even though it was that country’s Supreme Court that refused to validate it.

President Donald Trump is levying threats against Guatemala, vowing retaliation after the Central American nation backed out of a deal that would’ve listed is a “safe third country” for asylum-seekers.

The deal would’ve complemented a recent series of changes the administration has made to existing policy. In the past, asylum-seekers could apply for protection in the United States in their own countries, at any point of entry or upon being detained. Now, the White House wants refugees to apply for asylum-status in the first “safe” country they enter after their own. It’s an unusual adjustment that’s already drawn condemnation from immigration activists, who’ve been keen to note that neither Mexico nor its Central American counterparts can be considered safe, stable havens.

According to President Trump, it’s poor enforcement below the border that lends to today’s immigration crisis.

Lashing out against Guatemalan authorities, Trump claimed the country’s enabled migrant caravans, sending “large numbers of people, some with criminal records to the United States.” The president’s said he may consider imposing an unspecified “ban” or remittance fees.

Perhaps ironically, Guatemala is among several countries the White House says it’ll no longer offer federal aid to. Critics of the cut-off have said development funds—by virtue of improving law and local living conditions—can themselves reduce immigration.

“Guatemala has no been good,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Big U.S. taxpayer dollars going to them was cut off by me 9 months ago.”

However, the commander-in-chief has continuously suggested that the nations beyond the United States’ southern border play a more active role in curbing the flow of migrants northward. He’s alternated between criticism and praise for Mexico, which has increased enforcement within its own borders.

Guatemala was purportedly planning to emulate Mexico in intercepting asylum-seekers before they can cross out of the country. But the plan fell through when Guatemala’s Supreme Court shot down the deal amidst speculation that the small and troubled country lacks the resources to care for and accommodate migrants.

Following the court’s rejection, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said he was never planning to ratify a “safe third country” agreement anyway.

“The government of the republic reiterates that at no moment has it contemplated signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country,” the Guatemalan government said.

Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security says it’ll seek enhanced cooperation—both from Guatemala and other administrations across the region. In a joint statement with the Guatemalan government, the DHS said both sides “have entered into several agreements” on migration.

“By strengthening the relationship between the two countries through such agreements, the U.S. and Guatemala, as partners, will better protect the most vulnerable populations of Guatemala while confronting irregular migration,” the statement said.


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