California residents may be interested in the bilateral agreements the Trump administration has made with El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The agreements are designed to ensure that each country shares the distribution of asylum claims. Officials are hoping that these agreements will curb the practice of seeking asylum in the U.S. as opposed to the countries that migrants have to travel through before crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.
On November 21, 2019, the United States deported an asylum seeker from Honduras to Guatemala City. This was the beginning of the operative stage of the bilateral agreement that has been brokered with countries in Central America’s Northern Triangle. More migrants from Honduras and El Salvador are expected to be rerouted to Guatemala to seek protection if the U.S. government deems them as ineligible for asylum.
This agreement has evoked some criticism from humanitarian groups and immigrant advocates. They feel that the agreement places vulnerable individuals in harm’s way since it requires them to seek asylum in areas that have hundreds its own citizens seeking asylum in other places.
The country of Guatemala has experienced a moderate amount of economic growth after its civil war in the 1990s. Since that time, though, it has had to grapple with drug trafficking, high crime rates, widespread poverty and political instability. According to the United Nations, only 262 individuals sought asylum in Guatemala in the year 2018.
An individual who is interested in seeking asylum in the U.S. may wish to discuss their situation with an immigration lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to help a person file the paperwork needed to start the asylum-seeking process. They could keep their client up to date on the steps required to seek refuge or work legally in the country.