The US has recently signed a deal with the government of Honduras that would effectively allow US immigration officials to send asylum seekers from the US border to Honduras. Which means simply, that immigrants could be sent away almost immediately. The US entered into similar agreements with El Salvador (early September) and Guatemala (July).
The agreement with Honruas would apply to anyone but Hondurans because that would entail sending them back to the country in which they fled. Such an action violates a principle of international law, called non-refoulement. Similarly, a Salvadorian could not be sent back to El Salvador, and a Guatemalan to Guatemala. But in practice, this policy allows for migrants from each of these countries to still be sent back to any of these 3 countries that now have asylum cooperation agreements with the US, so long as they are not sent back to their nation of origin.
Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and the bulk of migrants fleeing Honduras and the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) are escaping gang violence that has overrun the region. In the past year alone, more than 250,000 Hondurans have fled and crossed the US border filing protection claims fleeing [gang] violence.
These 3 countries have tiny asylum offices that would have nowhere near the appropriate capacity for effectively processing such large quantities of asylum requests.
This new policy harkens a stricter enforcement of the Trump Administration’s attempts at safe-third-country policies in which migrants are encouraged/required to seek asylum in a country they pass along the way to the US. Through this new policy it is inherently possible that an asylum seeker from the Northern Triangle would just be sent to one of the 2 countries in which they are not a citizen.
Additionally, the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hérnandez has been negatively tied to his brother, Tony Hérnandez for major drug-smuggling charges. It has been rumored his 2013 campaign was [partially] funded by $1.5 million in drug money for bribes and gifts for political supporters. While this may tangentially bode poorly, it raises questions about corruption, legitimacy, and ultimately credibility.
A senior official at the US Department of Homeland Security stated that this new policy would “allow migrants to seek protection as close to home as possible.” Regardless of the fact that this could mean roughly 26,000 individuals per year would be hosted by Hondurans alone, waiting for the completion of their asylum applications process – which can take years. Similarly, it is wrong to assume that some escaping such widespread violence would want to be sent back to the region in which they fled – just within different borders.
- The ACLU: a non-profit with a longstanding commitment to preserving and protecting the individual rights and liberties the Constitution and US laws guarantee all its citizens. You can also donate monthly to counter Trump’s attacks on people’s rights. Recently, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the separation of families at the border.
- The National Immigration Law Center: an organization that exclusively dedicates itself to defending and furthering the rights of low income immigrants and strives to educate decision makers on the impacts and effects of their policies on this overlooked part of the population.
- us: an organization that aims to promote the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream alive. They specifically and currently focus on immigration reform.
Photo by Airam Dato-on