Nov 21, 2019 - Politics & Policy

U.S. sends first Honduran asylum seeker sent to Guatemala

The border.

Dozens of people seen waiting to enter the U.S. on the Northern side of the International Bridge over the Rio Grande, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico. Photo: LEXIE HARRISON-CRIPPS/AFP via Getty Images

The first Honduran migrant was sent to Guatemala on Thursday to pursue his asylum case, the AP reports, kicking off a "landmark" Trump administration policy.

Flashback: Guatemala signed a "safe third country" agreement in July, agreeing to take in more Central American asylum seekers in an effort to slow migration in the U.S. The policy mostly impacts immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador whose routes to the U.S. go through Guatemala. Thousands of Guatemalans left the country last year to seek asylum in the U.S., Al Jazeera notes.

Why it matters: The policy is among "several aggressive moves" designed by the Trump administration to stem the flow of migrants from Central America into the U.S., the AP writes. Another, the so-called "remain in Mexico" program, requires migrants seeking admission to the U.S. to be sent back to Mexico for the duration of their court proceedings.

What's next: Guatemala Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart said he expects more asylum seekers to be returned to the country starting next week. He did not specify how many, per the AP.

  • U.S. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Guatemala is still establishing "reception centers" to process asylum seekers.

Go deeper: Refugee resettlement agencies sue Trump admin over executive order

Go deeper