Biden ends Trump-era deals with Central American countries to curb asylum claims at US border

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

Arrangements made between the U.S. and three Central American countries to curb the number of asylum claims at the U.S. border were suspended Saturday, the Biden administration announced.

The Asylum Cooperative Agreements that limited some asylum seekers from making claims in the U.S. and required them to instead seek asylum in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were suspended and scheduled to be terminated with an executive order signed Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced.

“To be clear, these actions do not mean that the U.S. border is open,” Blinken said in a statement.  “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.”

The agreement between the U.S. and Guatemala was paused in March 2020 because of COVID-19 precautions and the deals were not yet implemented in El Salvador or Honduras, according to Blinken. The administration will continue to process migrants who arrive at the border, though Blinken warned against irregular migration due to the potential risks.

“We will 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,” Blinken said in a statement.

The agreements, drafted by the Trump administration, were meant to address a humanitarian and security crisis caused by irregular migration and human smuggling attempts, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The deals would expand asylum capabilities within the three countries to promote safety, security and prosperity for people in their home countries.

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