ANNOUNCES “SAFE THIRD COUNTRY” AGREEMENT WITH GUATEMALA
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 17, 2019) — Shortly after 9:00 p.m. Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted that the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people……”
Continuing, Trump wrote in a second tweet, “….long before they get to our Southern Border.”
In a new development, Trump said that “Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement,” apparently indicative of its willingness to act as a “safe third country” for citizens of countries fleeing their home countries for the United States.
On June 7, Trump announced that Mexico reached an agreement with the U.S. to more assiduously police its borders to prevent the streams of Central-American and other illegal aliens from entering the U.S. which have overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol agents and available U.S. housing facilities in a growing surge since October.
The Mexico-U.S. accord came soon after Trump said he would begin imposing trade tariffs on all Mexican imports beginning on June 10.
On June 6, Rafael Bernal of The Hill reported:
A big sticking point in negotiations between Mexico and the Trump administration to prevent tariffs from being imposed on Mexican exports is the U.S. demand for a “safe third country” agreement when it comes to asylum-seekers traveling to the United States.
Mexico has refused to agree to the commitment, under which potential refugees would be required to apply for benefits in the country where they first land, and not the country where they ultimately want to settle.
In recent weeks, ICE has reportedly been releasing illegal aliens into American communities due to its inability to provide housing, in large part due to overcrowded facilities and the Flores court settlement mandating that illegal-alien minors cannot be detained for more than 20 days.
Many children are being trafficked, the Trump administration has said, as those coming from Guatemala, Ecuador, and El Salvador reportedly perceive that if they arrive at the U.S. border with a child, chances of their removal are low. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said that a significant number of aliens designated for DNA testing to determine whether or not the children with whom they arrived at the border were in fact family members were found not to be related to the children they claimed were theirs.
Some, McAleenan testified, admitted they were not related while stating they did not wish to be tested.
The reform of U.S. immigration laws and construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico have been priorities of the Trump administration. Throughout his more than two years in office, however, Congress has failed to act to close “loopholes” Trump has decried, including prior to this past January when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress.
Many estimates say there are between 11 million and 12 million illegal aliens living in the United States, although a Yale University report published last year said that number is likely closer to 22 million or more. According to DHS, more than 144,000 illegals were apprehended after crossing the southern border in May.
Trump’s claim as to Guatemala’s reported agreement to accept asylum-seekers from Central America was discussed last week, according to Reuters, between the State Department and Guatemalan officials. On Sunday, that nation held a presidential election which will lead to a runoff to decide the winner.