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Tags Current Affairs

Safe third country agreement: The US- Guatemala asylum deal

Date: 18 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


In July last year, Guatemala’s Ex-President Jimmy Morales had signed a highly criticised asylum deal with the US which allowed Washington to send asylum seekers from third countries to Guatemala.



In the 2019 fiscal year, Guatemala was the largest source of migrants (more than 2.64 lakh persons) detained at the US border. New President Alejandro Giammattei has not cleared his position on the pact, causing uncertainty over its future.



  • Under the “safe third country” agreement, migrants have to apply for asylum in the first country they land in. If they fail to do so and proceed to the second country, they can be sent back to the first country.

  • In 2019, the Trump administration signed “safe third country” agreements with the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, making it more difficult for refugees to seek asylum in the US.

  • A “safe third country” is supposed to mean a nation which is capable of offering protection to refugees. The Northern Triangle countries, which have signed these agreements, are known for high levels of crime, violence, and economic deprivation.

  • The deal with Guatemala has been criticised, given the risk that migrants might face when they are sent back here.

  • The US has increasingly adopted policies aimed at deterring refugee migration. Under the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which came into force in January 2019, 55,000 asylum seekers to the US have been sent back to Mexico to wait out their asylum cases in that country.

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