The Biden administration is ending the Trump administration’s agreements requiring Central American counties to take in asylum-seekers who may be headed for the United States, NBC News reports.
The State Department announced on Saturday that it will suspend and terminate the asylum cooperative agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras aimed at reducing the number of asylum-seekers at the border. The agreement required the three countries to “share the distribution of asylum claims” but critics said it forced asylum-seekers into dangerous environments and countries beseiged by violence.
The program with Guatemala has been paused since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the other two agreements were never implemented.
The department called the move “the first concrete steps on the path to greater partnership and collaboration in the region laid out by President Biden.”
Biden rolling back Trump’s immigration policies:
The move is part of a wider rollback of Trump’s immigration policies by the new administration.
“The Biden administration believes there are more suitable ways to work with our partner governments to manage migration across the region,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The United States will build on our strong relationships and support these governments’ efforts to address forced displacement without placing undue burden on them, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our approach will continue to provide support for their national action plans under the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework through international humanitarian partners.”
State warns border not “open”:
Blinken warned that “these actions do not mean that the US border is open.”
“While we are committed to expanding legal pathways for protection and opportunity here and in the region, the United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced. We are also committed to providing safe and orderly processing for all who arrive at our border, but those who attempt to migrate irregularly are putting themselves and their families at risk on what can be a very dangerous journey,” Blinken said.
The department also vowed to address the “root causes of forced displacement and irregular migration, including by combatting corruption and impunity, upholding our obligations to protect refugees, and working collaboratively with our partners to promote opportunity and prosperity for people and communities across the region.”