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article imageHonduras agrees to accept asylum-seekers turned away at US border

By Karen Graham     Sep 25, 2019 in Politics
The Trump administration says it has a deal that paves the way to send many asylum-seekers to Honduras, one of the world’s most violent countries, to seek protection there.
Under the agreement signed Wednesday, reports BuzzFeed News, the U.S. and Honduras have laid out the groundwork so that immigrants who travel through Honduras must first seek protection there before applying for refuge in the US.
The agreement is similar to deals struck in Guatemala and El Salvador to meet the Trump administration's plan to shore-up so-called "safe third country" participation with what's known as the "Northern Triangle." The Trump White House has pressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to get the deal done by Oct. 1.
A senior DHS official said that if an immigrant arrives at the U.S. southern border seeking protection without first having sought asylum in one of those three Central American countries they have traveled through, "they will be returned" in order to do so.
The Associated Press points out that with the White House asylum-seekers deal in place with the three countries, it would effectively create a blockade to force any asylum-seeker who travels through the region’s “Northern Triangle” to be denied entry to the U.S.
The Supreme Court allowed Donald Trump to enact severe restrictions on refugees from Central America...
The Supreme Court allowed Donald Trump to enact severe restrictions on refugees from Central America, forcing them to apply for asylum in Mexico rather than head northward to the US
Paul Ratje, AFP/File
Serious rights consequences for asylum-seekers
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday said that with the expansion of its “Remain in Mexico” program," the Trump administration is undercutting the rights of asylum-seekers at the United States southern border.
Under the Trump Administration's Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) – known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, asylum-seekers have been returned to Mexico, but now, with the deal worked out with the "Northern Triangle" countries, things will only become worse for the migrant families.
In Mexico, there is a shortage of shelters and high crime rates - with the threats of kidnapping, extortion, and other violence while in Mexico for those migrants awaiting asylum hearings in US immigration court.
“The inherently inhumane ‘Remain in Mexico’ program is getting more abusive by the day,” said Ariana Sawyer, assistant US Program researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The program’s rapid growth in recent months has put even more people and families in danger in Mexico while they await an increasingly unfair legal process in the US.”
US President Donald Trump announced an asylum agreement with Guatemala days after threatening tariff...
US President Donald Trump announced an asylum agreement with Guatemala days after threatening tariffs on the small Central American country if it did not sign on
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
Beginning the week of September 29, 2019, as part of the most recent expansion of the "Remain in Mexico" program, the Department of Homeland Security acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, announced on September 23 that all Central American asylum-seekers will also be sent to Mexico.
Here's the problem as of today - The three Northern Triangle countries have yet to work out how they are going to deal with migrants being returned to their countries. It is the responsibility of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to facilitate the transportation of asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico back to their country of origin - but it does not notify US immigration judges.
Because of this lack of communication with the US court system, asylum seekers are likely to be handed down a judgment for being a "no-show" at an asylum hearing - resulting in a ban of up to 10 years on entering the US again. In total, more than 66,000 asylum seekers are now in Mexico, forced to wait months or years for their cases to be decided in the US.
The Northern Triangle - The most violent place in the world
Other than active war zones, you can't find a more violent area of the world than the Northern Triangle. A total of 13,129 people were slain in Northern Triangle countries last year -- a drop from previous years but still a very high rate given the nations' relatively small populations.
Central American migrants -- mostly from Honduras -- line up for food outside a shelter in Tijuana  ...
Central American migrants -- mostly from Honduras -- line up for food outside a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, near the US-Mexico border fence
Pedro PARDO, AFP
It is this violence that spurs emigration. Guatemalans, El Salvadorans and Hondurans are together the second largest group of undocumented immigrants in the United States after unauthorized migrants from Mexico, according to the Pew Research Center.
"They should declare permanent mourning across the three (Northern Triangle) countries because for each killing, there are five to eight relatives of the victim," said Salvadoran analyst Roberto Canas.
“The Trump administration seems intent on making the bad situation for asylum seekers even worse by further depriving them of due process rights,” Sawyer said. “The US Congress should step in and put an end to these mean-spirited attempts to undermine and destroy the US asylum system.”
More about Honduras, asylumseekers, northern triangle, rights of asylum, Remain in Mexico program
 
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