September 10, 2019 — Honduras has given in to pressure from the Trump administration to declare itself a “safe country” for asylum seekers from Cuba and Nicaragua, as reported by La Prensa’s weekly newspaper. According to the publication, the agreement was signed on August 26 during a meeting in Washington, D.C. between Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan. Following the meeting, both governments issued a statement announcing the “shared security agreement.”
The agreement is part of the United States’ latest attempts to strangle the flow of eligible asylum seekers to its southern border. The decision not only violates international asylum laws but it is both immoral and indecent given that two weeks prior to this agreement, Hernández was identified by New York’s district court as a co-conspirator in a drug trafficking and money laundering case.
Based on La Prensa’s report, the pact also facilitates the deportation of Hondurans from the United States. According to the Consular and Migration Observatory in Honduras, the number of deportations of Hondurans from the United States and Mexico between January and August of 2018 compared to the same period in 2019 shows an increase of 58.7%.
This agreement sheds light on new ways the Trump administration is operating in Central America, beginning with the “asylum agreement” signed with Guatemala this past July. So far, that first attempt at designating a Central American country as safe is in limbo, as Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has blocked the agreement. In an attempt to avoid a similar outcome in Honduras, the Trump administration is disguising the pact as a “security agreement” instead. Just a few days earlier, the Trump administration signed an agreement with El Salvador strengthening the newly created “border patrol.”
Meanwhile, GuatemalanPresident-elect Alejandro Giammattei carried out his third trip to Washington since his elections, where reiterated that he will reject the agreement signed by former President Jimmy Morales. On September 5, Giammattei asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to allow his team to participate in the meeting that took place on September 9 in Guatemala, which was meant to discuss the implementation of the agreement.
Mexican officials also in DC– promoting their efforts to stop Central Americans from Reaching the US
Mexican officials headed to Washington to provide details on their compliance with and agreement signed in June with the Trump Administration to curb crossings from Mexico into the United States. This agreement emerged after the Trump Administration threatened Mexico with tariffs if it did not take steps. On September 6, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who oversees the application of the agreement, said he was confident that he would receive the US approval. According to the Mexican government, returns of Central American migrants continue to increase, reaching 130,995 in 2019. Hondurans lead the number of returnees,with 52.85%, followed by Guatemala with 31.71% and El Salvador with 11.98% Ebrard also notes that apprehensions at the southern border of the US have decreased by 56% in the last four months.
TPS Beneficiaries advocate for Protections Central America in Washington
Meanwhile, Organizational members of Alianza Americas along with allied organizations are in Washington DC this week to demand that the Senate take urgent measures in favor of permanency for TPS, DACA, and DED holders. Among the series of actions being promoted at the Capitol, the group is also calling for protection for asylum seekers from Central America and raising awareness about the reasons that drive the most vulnerable people to flee. Those same conditions also make impossible for TPS and DACA holders and their US citizen children to return to countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.