President Donald Trump complained Tuesday that Guatemala’s government broke off a planned safe third country agreement with the U.S., a deal that would have required Central American migrants traveling into Guatemala to claim asylum there instead of elsewhere.
Trump tweeted that Guatemala has been forming caravans of migrants, sending “large numbers of people, some with criminal records to the United States.” In response, Trump warned, his administration would explore imposing a “ban,” tariffs, remittance fees or some combination of all three. He also touted his administration’s decision months ago to cut federal aid to Guatemala.
“Guatemala has not been good,” Trump wrote. “Big U.S. taxpayer dollars going to them was cut off by me 9 months ago.”
The tweets come after Trump’s praise last month for Mexico’s attempts to intercept Central American asylum-seekers as well as his announcement that Guatemala was getting ready to do the same. But last week, the Guatemalan government canceled a meeting between Trump and President Jimmy Morales, and the country’s top court blocked asylum deal talks from progressing. Morales faced pressure at home not to sign the deal after concerns emerged that Guatemala wasn’t equipped to shelter and assist large numbers of migrants.
Mexico said in the past that its ability to keep its asylum commitments depends on whether other Central American countries would do so as well. When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard met Sunday, Ebrard said current immigration measures were working and an asylum deal wasn’t necessary.
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