The Trump Administration has been passing several controversial and inhumane policies to prevent Central American migrants from exercising their legal asylum rights, which are technically protected under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last week, the Guatemalan government canceled a meeting with President Trump and blocked an asylum deal that would force the country to shelter and assist large numbers of migrants. According to President Trump, the deal would have required Central American migrants to claim asylum in Guatemala, rather than at the border or within the United States.
Enraged, the president immediately began accusing the Guatemalan government of breaking a deal with the United States. His administration also started actively investigating the feasibility of enacting a travel ban against Guatemala unless the country takes strides to stop migrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
On July 24, 2019, a White House official reportedly told NPR, “If Guatemala doesn’t take significant action to help protect our borders, then we will, of course, look at all manner of solutions to the serious crisis we face…whether it’s a travel ban, significant actions on remittances and/or tariffs.” President Trump has also threatened to cut all federal aid to Guatemala.
Unfortunately, as Andrew Restuccia and Juan Montes of The Wall Street Journal explain, this isn’t the first time that President Trump has used a travel ban as a policy tool: “Earlier this year the administration said it was considering whether to reject visitor visas from countries whose nationals had high rates of overstaying such visas.” In their article, the reporters also express concerns about the U.S. declaring Guatemala a “safe third country” since “such a designation would make Guatemala a final destination for many asylum seekers, as they would likely be ineligible to pursue claims in the U.S. or elsewhere.”
Why Is the Trump Administration Focused on Guatemala?
But why is the Trump Administration pressuring Guatemala? The answer to this question is two-fold. On the one hand, President Trump has made several derogatory comments about the migrants caravanning to the border. In his mind, the tens of thousands of migrants flooding U.S. port of entries for assistance and asylum are a threat to his aggressive anti-immigration platform. His supporters have also expressed concerns about a related matter: Mexico, refusing to bow to Trump, has openly stated that its ability to keep asylum commitments is entirely dependent on how other Central American countries decide to handle the so-called “border crisis.” Interestingly, President Trump has also threatened Mexico with tariffs if the southern nation doesn’t do their part in curbing illegal migration.
Can President Trump Impose Tariffs?
Rishiki Dugyala and Sabrina Rodriguez of Politico recently posted an article, “Trump Warns of Retaliation Against Guatemala After Immigration Deal Falls Through,” that analyzes whether or not Trump could actually impose his tariffs. According to these reporters, “It is unclear how Trump would impose his threatened tariffs because Guatemala has been part of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement since 2006. The trade agreement – which includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – removed most tariffs and trade barriers between the countries and the U.S.”
However, President Trump has been known to manipulate – and even ignore – the law just to get his way. Hopefully, judges in the United States will continue to counter the president’s unlawful attempts to enforce asylum restrictions and prevent legal immigration.
Do You Have Questions About the U.S. Asylum Process? Call Today
Contact the knowledgeable immigration attorneys at Guerra Sáenz, PL if you have questions about your immigration status or are attempting to apply for asylum in the United States. We can help you navigate the affirmative asylum process or, if necessary, facilitate your path to citizenship through the defensive asylum process.
Call Guerra Sáenz, PL today at (888) 936-3228 schedule a confidential consultation.