President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump said today that the United States had struck an asylum agreement with Guatemala. Speaking from the Oval Office, Trump told reporters he had reached a "safe third country" deal with the Central American nation, but the Guatemalan government did not use that term, it said that the new measures applied only to Honduran and Salvadoran citizens. Under such agreements, a transit country, in this case, Guatemala, typically will consent to receive asylum seekers who pass through its territory, although the details of the measure signed Friday remain unclear. President Trump stated:

We've long been working with Guatemala, and now we can do it the right way. It's going to be terrific for them and terrific for the United States.

Trump has railed at Guatemala in recent days for allegedly backing out of asylum negotiations with the U.S. The Guatemalan government earlier this month called off a meeting between Trump and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales amid litigation in that country's top court challenging the asylum discussions. In a tweet this week, Trump said his administration was weighing retaliation against Guatemala that included a possible travel ban, tariffs, and a fee on remittances — a significant source of economic activity in that country.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, praised the deal stating:

If you have a Honduran family or an El Salvadoran national, instead of them having to pay a smuggler, come all the way to our border to seek asylum, when they arrive in Guatemala they’re in a country that has a fair proceeding for assessing asylum claims, and that’s where they should make that claim.

The Guatemalan government said in a statement that the deal would allow its citizens to apply for temporary visas to work in the U.S. agricultural sector, and in the medium- to long-term, would allow for work visas for the construction and service sectors.

Updated: Fri, Aug 9th 2019 @ 6:25pm EDT