The Trump administration today released an interim final rule that will allow U.S. officials to deport asylum seekers to three Central American countries, as it continues to stem a wave of migration on its southern border with Mexico. In a fast-track regulation set to publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday, the administration has created a framework that will allow asylum seekers to be sent to other nations that have negotiated bilateral agreements to accept them, a safe third country agreement.
The rule, set to be published in the Federal Register Tuesday, codifies long-anticipated “safe third country“ agreements with El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and paves the way for similar agreements with other nations. The agreements require migrants who pass through Northern Triangle countries to first seek asylum there before coming to the United States
Previously, officials in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have argued that migrants with a valid need for asylum should seek protection in the first ‘safe’ country where they have the chance to apply since many migrants travel through multiple countries on their way to the U.S. border. However, the new regulation states that asylum seekers may be sent to any other countries with which the United States has asylum agreements that permit such an action - even if they did not first transit through those nations.
The United States already maintains a bilateral asylum deal with Canada. Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have also signed such deals in recent months, but the pacts have not been finalized. The regulation released on Monday will amend U.S. guidelines to permit similar deals with other nations.
Migrants who may be sent to a third country under the new regulation will have an opportunity to prove that they’re “more likely than not” to be persecuted or tortured in that country. A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman said on Saturday that implementation of the asylum agreement with Guatemala would occur soon, but did not provide a specific timeline. The department did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
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Updated: Tue, Dec 3rd 2019 @ 11:30am EST