Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2019. 6:34 pm CST.
Photo courtesy U.S. State Department office
By Aaron Humes: President of the United States Donald Trump is not making many friends internationally, especially in Mexico and Central America, with his take-no-prisoners approach to halting illegal immigration through the southern border with Mexico.
The trouble is, few in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and countries further south have been disillusioned by the haunting images broadcast on American television – officials insisting there is no more room in the States; camps overflowing with migrants waiting in vain for their opportunity; some floating dead in the river, or shot by police; even those rounded up in the States to be sent back to homes some never knew.
But U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie Chung maintains that all must lend a hand to solve this regional problem.
“We really call upon all the countries of Central America and Mexico to do what they can to have the will to work with us in partnership to address this shared mutual concern. We have to have borders that are secured. We cannot have a rule-less, lawless movement of people and so we are working very closely. The diplomacy, the diplomatic work of the state department is to work with the governments of each of those countries, to work with NGOs and people on the ground and this is not a challenge that will go away immediately, but we certainly want to challenge and resolve this issue in the near term,” she told reporters after a visit to Belize this week.
Chung said she had not discussed with any local officials the option of establishing a “safe third country agreement,” which the U.S. currently has with Canada (since 2004) and Guatemala (established in 2019).
Under such agreements, according to news reports, these countries are intended to host migrants seeking asylum, promising they are “safe” to live in and wait while their applications are processed. A similar program with Mexico acts in place of a formal agreement which Mexico has refused to sign. Other countries being looked at for similar arrangements include Panama, El Salvador and Honduras.
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