In a highly controversial move, the US began deporting asylum seekers to Guatemala pursuant to a new agreement requiring asylum seekers to seek protection in neighboring countries they pass through before seeking asylum protection in the United States. Refugees from Honduras and El Salvador are expected to be rerouted to Guatemala in the coming days. This policy comes on the heels of an agreement with the Guatemalan government. The pact gives the Department of Homeland Security the ability to send asylum seekers to Guatemala if they do not seek protection there while transiting through the country en route to the U.S. border. It could mean that refugees from numerous countries will make the dangerous journey to the United States only to be sent back to Central America upon reaching U.S. territory.
The UN Refugee Agency opined, “It is an approach at variance with international law that could result in the transfer of highly vulnerable individuals to countries where they may face life-threatening dangers.”