In November 2020, the Trump administration adopted a final interim rule for the implementation of agreements with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Since then, the United States has deported Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers to Guatemala, repatriating at least 1,000 adults and children to the country. Agreement with El Salvador: The Salvadoran government has agreed to take in asylum seekers returned from the United States. Under the agreement, any asylum seeker who is not a national of El Salvador could be returned to El Salvador and forced to seek asylum there. “I don`t think UNHCR itself is opposed to agreements on safe third-country nationals. I think it depends very heavily on the terms of this agreement,” Bassu said. Paragraph 1 [which can apply for asylum, quoted above] does not apply to a foreigner if the Attorney General finds that the foreigner can be deported to a country under a bilateral or multilateral agreement… where the life or freedom of the foreigner would not be threatened because of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and in which the foreigner would have access to a complete and fair process to determine an asylum application or equivalent temporary protection… These agreements involve the obligation to develop the capacity of the asylum system in these countries, because El Salvador and Honduras (such as Guatemala and Mexico) are unable to offer protection to groups seeking asylum in the United States – the majority of their citizens. He said the Agency had not seen plans to implement the agreement, but that “the most pessimistic scenarios are clearly worrying.” The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires ongoing review of all countries designated as safe third countries.
The purpose of the review procedure is to ensure that the conditions that led to deportation as a safe third country remain met. The agreements effectively prevent migrants from accessing the US asylum system and require them to seek protection in countries facing high rates of violence and poverty, which lack the institutions and infrastructure to help large numbers of refugees, and which face serious socio-economic, economic and environmental problems. In addition, many Honduran, El Salvadoran and Guatemalan citizens are fleeing these conditions in their own countries in the hope of seeking asylum in the United States. It is significant that the Trump administration has not characterized these agreements with “safe third countries” as a shameful realization that these countries do not meet the implicit requirements of a safe third country. For example, most asylum seekers sent to Guatemala – including families with children – choose to return home, often risk their lives, but acknowledge that asylum seekers are not safe in Guatemala. Giovanni Bassu, UNHCR`s regional representative for Central America and Cuba, said the agency was holding discussions with both U.S. and Guatemala governments about the Safe Third Country Agreement to promote best practices and international standards for asylum procedures. The agreement does not apply to U.S.
citizens or ordinary U.S. residents who are not nationals of a country (“stateless”). The Trump administration methodically degrades the United States.