Safe Third Country Agreements with Central American Countries Eviscerate America’s Asylum System

November 20, 2019

WASHINGTON— The Trump administration published a new rule Tuesday that seeks to implement safe third country agreements that the United States entered into with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—and bar many individuals seeking protection in the United States from being able to apply for asylum. The new rule would permit the U.S. government to forcibly deport asylum seekers to a third country and require them to apply for protection there, entirely depriving them of the opportunity to seek protection in the United States.

If implemented, these so-called “asylum cooperative agreements” would endanger many people fleeing persecution who will be made to seek protection in countries where there is virtually no system equipped to handle their requests and where asylum seekers face serious threats to their safety.

The following statement is from Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council:

“Safe third country agreements that relentlessly turn away asylum seekers at our borders betray America’s legacy and leadership as a beacon of hope and safe haven for those fleeing persecution.

“This is yet another heavy-handed attempt by the Trump administration to gut America’s asylum system by preventing people at the border from qualifying for any humanitarian protection in the United States. No person should be forced to seek protection in countries ill-equipped to hear their claims and where they will face the same harms from which they flee.

“There is a role for cooperation among countries to make asylum a viable option in the region, but we cannot send asylum seekers to countries where violence is driving their own nationals to flee. Long-term investment in the rule of law and development as well as the capacity of asylum systems will make it possible for more people to live safely at home or find safety in countries besides the United States. But simply calling a country 'safe' for asylum seekers does not make it so.

“Closing our doors to vulnerable populations from around the world causes chaos and uncertainty in the region. This lack of leadership is contrary to our American traditions, values, and history.”


For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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