Migration deal with US meets mixed reactions in Guatemala

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Guatemala City

A migration pact with the United States drew sharply mixed reactions in Guatemala on Saturday, as business groups welcomed it for helping avoid US punitive measures while rights groups called it “cruel and illegal.” S President Donald Trump, who has pushed hard to slow the flow of migrants, said Friday that the “safe third country asylum” agreement would require would-be asylum seekers traveling through Guatemala to seek refuge there, not in the United States. Anyone failing to do so would be sent back to Guatemala. Most of those migrants would be coming from El Salvador or Honduras. The pact was signed in Washington on Friday by Kevin McAleenan, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security, and Guatemala’s interior secretary, Enrique Degenhart. Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman Jordan Rodas has questioned its legality, saying his country’s constitution does not authorize a minister to sign such an agreement. He urged the Congress to study it carefully. Rights group Amnesty International called the agreement “outrageous,” saying that “there is no doubt that Guatemala should not be considered a safe place of refuge.” A “safe third” agreement could only be legal if would-be asylum seekers were sent to a truly safe third country, rights groups said.—APP

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