Jan 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump administration will deport Mexican asylum-seekers to Guatemala

man breaks down campsite as he waits to file for asylum
More than 1,000 Mexican migrants had been waiting for weeks, some for months, for a chance to file for asylum in the U.S. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will begin sending Mexican asylum-seekers to Guatemala to wait out their cases instead of allowing them to remain in the U.S., according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Why it matters: The Trump administration had previously implemented a "remain in Mexico" policy for asylum-seekers from Central America, but international law forbids asylum-seekers from being sent back to their home country due to concerns they may face prosecution. Mexicans account for more than half of the estimated 21,000 asylum seekers waiting along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The big picture: The "remain in Mexico" policy for Central Americans was implemented in November, but asylum officials were emailed guidance in recent days on how to expand the process to include Mexicans, per BuzzFeed.

  • Asylum officers will interview the asylum-seekers to determine whether they are eligible to be deported to Guatemala and gain protections there rather than the U.S.

What they're saying:

“Mexico is dangerous; Guatemala is even more so. This expansion of the [agreement] continues to prevent legitimate asylum-seekers from having their cases heard by the US and foists them upon the Guatemalan system, which has about a dozen staff. Asylum in the US is now practically available only for people wealthy and privileged enough to get visas, shutting out many of the most vulnerable groups asking for help at our borders.”
— An anonymous asylum official told BuzzFeed

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