Trump Hosts Outgoing Guatemalan President

U.S. President Donald Trump hosted Guatemala’s outgoing president Jimmy Morales at the White House Tuesday, where the two discussed immigration and trade.Trump called the relationship with Guatemala “tremendous” and praised Morales on the immigration deal where Guatemala agrees to accept migrants seeking asylum in the U.S.”The relationship is very good, it’s a very important country from the standpoint of the border and trade,”  Trump added.In July the Trump administration reached an agreement with the Morales government that will allow U.S. immigration officials to send migrants requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to Guatemala.The U.S. has signed similar agreements with El Salvador and Honduras, requiring migrants on their way to the U.S. to apply for protections in those countries first. U.S. immigration authorities may send migrants back to those countries if they fail to do so, effectively making it almost impossible for migrants from the Northern Triangle countries to seek asylum.The Trump administration has sent the first migrants back to Guatemala in November. According to the Guatemalan government, a total of 24 people have been sent to the country under the program.President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 26, 2019. Trump announced that Guatemala is signing an agreement to restrict asylum applications to the U.S. from Central America.”Now they have to take them back, and they take them back with open arms,” said Trump.That may not be the case as Guatemala’s president-elect Alejandro Giammattei who will take office in January has balked at accepting the agreement reached by his predecessor.In August Giammattei said that Guatemala will not be able to hold up its side of the agreement and serve as a “safe third country” for asylum seekers as the country  “does not fulfill the requirements” to be one.The incoming government will have to weigh their options as the Trump administration has made it clear that Guatemala must agree to accept asylum-seekers in order to benefit from a U.S-sponsored regional economic development plan.In October, Mauricio Claver-Carone, senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the White House National Security Council said that Guatemala must embrace the safe third country agreement if it hopes to benefit from the economic development plan for Mexico and Central America known as America Crece.Although Giammattei has been critical of the ACA (Asylum Cooperative Agreements), “the prospect of governing a country without U.S. aid may deter him from following through with revoking its implementation,” said Cristobal Ramon, senior policy analyst with the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration ProjectRamon said that Giammattei could always threaten to revoke the agreement unless the U.S. agrees to make more aid investments in the country or receive other benefits for Guatemalan nationals like receiving a second package of H-2A visas for Guatemalan farm workers.It’s too early to know if Giammattei would take this route “and if Trump could make these concessions in the face of these threats”  but it’s something that Giammettei could potentially do to bolster the gains Guatemala gets from implementing this agreement, Ramon added.Trump dismissed VOA’s questioning on whether he would withhold aid from the country should Giammattei continue to reject the agreement.”Guatemala is terrific. Guatemala has been terrific,” Trump said.

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