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President Trump oversaw a signing ceremony Friday in the Oval Office between Guatemala and the United States for a “safe third country” agreement on asylum seekers. The New York Post reports:
The “safe third country” agreement would require migrants, including Salvadorans and Hondurans, who cross into Guatemala on their way to the US to apply for protections in that country instead of at the southern border [of the United States]. … The two countries had been negotiating an agreement for months, and Trump threatened Wednesday to place tariffs on Guatemala if it didn’t cut a deal.
The agreement, signed by Guatemalan Minister of Interior and Home Affairs Enrique Degenhart and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, means that Guatemalans who want asylum in the United States must apply for asylum while still in Guatemala. In addition, foreign nationals who pass through Guatemala must seek asylum in Guatemala, not in the United States. This is significant because it is not possible to get to the United States by land from Central and South America without passing through Guatemala. Practically speaking, as I understand it, the agreement means that when U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agents apprehend aliens crossing the border illegally who then make claims of asylum, the aliens can be deported to Guatemala.
Last fiscal year (2018), CBP apprehended 116,808 illegal aliens from Guatemala, 77,128 illegal aliens from Honduras, and 31,636 illegal aliens from El Salvador. There were 404,142 apprehensions of illegal aliens in total (see page 34 of linked PDF).
Even the liberal PolitiFact had to admit last year that President Trump’s statement that there’d been a “a 1,700 percent increase in asylum claims over the last 10 years” was “mostly true” (i.e. true).
Also Friday, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision that had blocked President Trump from using $2.5 billion in military funds for building a wall along the southern border.