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Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, migrants must apply for asylum in the host country. If they do not do so and go to the second country, they can be sent back to the first country. Safe Third Country Agreements should never be a way to shift the burden of taking asylum seekers into other countries, but that seems to be the way Trump is trying to use them. Even if the administration does not call them „safe third countries,“ that is essentially what they are. Trump announced in July that the United States had reached an agreement with Guatemala on safe third-country nationals, while it still needed to be ratified by the Guatemalan government. As part of the agreement, the United States proposed to expand and streamline the temporary H-2A agricultural visa program for Guatemalan citizens and promised to boost what Trump called a „new era of investment and growth.“ The ACA gives the United States the power to transfer asylum seekers to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador if the taker is not from the country where they are sent. The presumed idea is that asylum seekers should apply for asylum in one of these three countries, when they are absolutely unable to deal with asylum cases responsibly, and their conditions generally uncertain. By deporting asylum seekers to countries that do not come from and to places where they may be exposed to danger, the United States denies them protection and violates international refugee law. DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) then issued a final interim rule (the „rule“) that allows the implementation of ACA not only with Guatemala, but also with El Salvador and Honduras, framing them as attempts to „share“ the weight of protection between the United States and the three Central American countries. [37] In practice, CASA will lay down the responsibility to protect on countries that are much less able to carry it. Additional information, attached to the published rule, shows that one of the main motivations of the ACA is to reduce the influx of asylum seekers into the United States as quickly as possible.

[38] The ACA with Guatemala was the first Central American agreement to be implemented; Transfers began at the end of November 2019. [101] Francisco Mauricio Martinez and Katerin Chumil, „Gobierno by Jimmy Morales mintié sobre términos para el pa`s por acuerdo de asilo con EE. Uu. (Jimmy Morales` government lied about an asylum deal with the United States on the country`s terms), Prensa Libre, February 27, 2020, www.prensalibre.com/guatemala/politica/gobierno-de-jimmy-morales-mintio-en-cuanto-a-que-el-acuerdo-de-asilo-no-representaria-un-costo-para-guatemala/. According to local authorities, only about 16 migrants have applied for asylum in Guatemala. The others are generally not taken into account. Some have returned home, while others, like Alicia, are planning to return north. Our interviews show that the ACA has been implemented in a way that effectively forces companies that exceed them to relinquish their rights. In Guatemala, takers have an unreasyed period of time to decide whether or not to seek asylum in Guatemala, which has a cumbersome and inefficient asylum system and does not guarantee adequate social assistance while asylum seekers` applications are pending.

Given the security situation in Guatemala, many takers also say they fear being exposed to the same damage they fled to their country of origin in Guatemala. As our interviews and interviews with UNHCR`s partner organization show, some people who have a justified fear of persecution seem to abandon their claims and return to their country of origin, where they are at real risk of serious damage. Faced with Guatemala`s inability to provide effective protection and the risk that some takers will be seriously threatened with damage, either in Guatemala or after returning to their country of origin, the United States is violating its domestic and international non-refoulement obligations by failing to consider the asylum claims of asylum seekers they forcibly send to Guatemala.