Since Wednesday, more than 800 Honduran and Salvadoran migrants have been returned to Guatemala under the agreement, according to the Guatemalan Migration Institute. Agreements on safe third countries have been put in place to give countries responsibility for aiding asylum seekers, always with regard to their well-being. In 1991, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees called for such agreements, in which they would “better identify vulnerable people” and “cooperate at the international level to provide this protection and achieve sustainable solutions.” But signing safe agreements with all third countries also gives the United States an additional tool to distract migrants. This could be the government`s opt-out option if a court overturns its asylum rule in ongoing legal disputes. Migrants could also be sent to countries other than their own if their governments refuse to cooperate with the United States to facilitate their deportation. DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) then issued a final interim rule (the “rule”) that allows the implementation of ACA not only with Guatemala, but also with El Salvador and Honduras, framing them as attempts to “share” the weight of protection between the United States and the three Central American countries.  In practice, CASA will lay down the responsibility to protect on countries that are much less able to carry it. Additional information, attached to the published rule, shows that one of the main motivations of the ACA is to reduce the influx of asylum seekers into the United States as quickly as possible.  The ACA with Guatemala was the first Central American agreement to be implemented; Transfers began at the end of November 2019. The agreements signed by the United States with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras require that migrants heading to the United States first seek protection in those countries.
In Guatemala City, social and student organizations have spoken out against the agreement before the Constitutional Court because the country is plunged into poverty and unemployment and is unable to serve migrants. They called for a protest on Saturday. In late May 2019, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) met with the Director of the Guatemalan Institute of Migration (IGM), who requested a “five-year ban” on the readmission of persons transferred from the United States to Guatemala (or takers) as part of a possible agreement, presumably with the aim of preventing takers from returning to the United States.  Last year, tens of thousands of asylum seekers left Guatemala en route to the United States or crossed Guatemala.