Aug 14, 2019

Guatemala's president-elect: Migrant deal with U.S. won't work

Guatemala's President-elect Alejandro Giammattei during an interview in Guatemala City on Monday. Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

The current Guatemalan government's "safe third country" asylum agreement with the Trump administration won't work because Guatemala doesn't have the resources, President-elect Alejandro Giammattei told AP in an interview published Wednesday.

"In order to be a safe country, one has to be certified as such by an international body, and I do not think Guatemala fulfills the requirements to be a third safe country. That definition doesn’t fit us."
— Guatemala's President-elect Alejandro Giammattei to AP

The state of play: Giammattei pointed out to AP that the deal would have to be ratified by Congress in both countries to come into effect.

The big picture: Outgoing President Jimmy Morales signed the deal after President Trump threatened tariffs and remittance taxes. It is aimed at reducing the number of asylum-seekers arriving at the southern border, but it's been widely criticized in Guatemala.

  • In his interview with AP, Giammattei pledged to recognize the importance of Guatemalan migrants living in the U.S. by creating a Washington-based Cabinet-level position on migrant affairs. He said U.S.-based migrants were supporting Guatemala with the remittance money they sent back to relatives in the country.
"I do not think physical walls, or walls of weapons, can stop migration. I think what can stop migration are walls of opportunities."

What's next? Giammattei is due to take office on Jan. 14. He told AP that annexes to the immigration deal were being negotiated with the U.S. and that he would ask Morales to include transition team members in the talks.

Go deeper: Guatemalan election could upend Trump’s migration deal

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Supreme Court to allow Trump administration to enforce asylum restrictions

Photo: Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted a district court's block on a Trump administration rule that would prevent almost all Central American migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S.

The big picture: The Trump rule, first introduced in July, forces migrants fleeing their home countries to apply for asylum in one of the first countries they pass through, or face ineligibility for asylum once they reach the southern border of the U.S. It has faced numerous legal challenges and was twice temporarily blocked by a California judge.

Go deeperArrowSep 11, 2019

Court ruling allows Trump asylum restrictions in Texas and New Mexico

An art exhibiton next to a section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence. Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that an earlier injunction on the Trump administration's third-country asylum rule, which barred migrants from asylum in the U.S. if they did not first apply for protection in a country they travelled through, can only be applied within the Ninth Circuit.

Why it matters: The Ninth Circuit is located along the West Coast and includes the U.S.-Mexico border states of California and Arizona. That means that this decision will effectively block — at least for now — most Central Americans who cross into the U.S., legally or illegally, in New Mexico or Texas from asylum.

Go deeperArrowAug 16, 2019

Acting CBP head touts falling border numbers at rare press briefing

Mark Morgan. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The number of border crossings last month fell again to 64,006 from a decade high of 144,266 in May, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan announced from the White House on Monday.

Why it matters: Morgan, who got the job largely thanks to his defense of Trump's policies on Fox News, used the rare press briefing to defend Trump's border wall and praise the administration's restrictions on asylum-seekers. He also praised the Mexican government's cracking down on migrants traveling through the country toward the U.S., but added that it needed to do more.

Go deeperArrowSep 9, 2019