WASHINGTON – The US government announced this Monday that it will not provide asylum for migrants who do not previously file their requests from a safe third country, in a new attempt to stem the migratory influx across the Mexican border, mostly from Central America.
“An alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum,” says a new order published in the Federal Register and which takes effect this Tuesday.
The ruling was presented by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The order was announced the same day that Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales was to meet with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, at the White House amid rumors about the possibility of their signing an accord making Guatemala a “safe third country” for migrants seeking asylum in the US.
Homeland Security acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement that “today’s action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits.”
According to the new ruling, the US will only accept asylum applications from migrants in a safe third country, but at present the only country in the hemisphere accepted as such in an official agreement is Canada.
Trump, who won the White House in 2017 with the promise of a hard-fisted migration policy, has declared a national emergency due to the “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” and has accused the countries of the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) of not taking adequate steps to stop the Central American exodus.
Several weeks ago he reached an agreement with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in which the latter vowed to strengthen Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and allow migrants already in his country on their way to seek asylum in the United States to stay there while their applications are being processed.