Tag Archives: country

Trump’s asylum deal with Guatemala threatens to plunge country into political crisis, analysts warn

Trump’s asylum deal with Guatemala threatens to plunge country into political crisis, analysts warnIn pressuring Guatemala to accept a deal to absorb vast numbers of asylum-seekers, the Trump administration has embarked on a dramatic and risky strategy to slash the number of Central Americans flooding the US-Mexico border.The accord – which was negotiated in secret and signed at the White House on Friday – could plunge Guatemala’s young democracy into a constitutional crisis, analysts warn.It could also saddle one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries with tens of thousands of Salvadoran and Honduran migrants who would be barred from making their claims in the United States.The agreement is one of the boldest steps yet taken by Donald Trump to stanch the flow of migrants to the US border.It aims to close off the US asylum system to the migrants who have crossed through Guatemala en route to the United States. They would instead have to seek protection in Guatemala.But the agreement is built on a fragile political and legal base.Guatemala’s constitutional court ruled earlier this month that President Jimmy Morales needed approval from the Guatemalan Congress to sign the accord – something he has not received.The Guatemalan president has sharply criticised the court decision, saying on Friday that “as far as we understand, this doesn’t have to go before Congress”.Some analysts said Mr Morales could get around the ruling with his argument that the deal is simply a cooperation agreement, not a treaty. But others note Mr Morales has at times simply shrugged off court rulings he dislikes.“This leaves a legacy we won’t be able to recover from, that the country’s constitution can be flagrantly violated without any kind of reaction or penalty,” said Renzo Rosal, an independent political consultant.The agreement is also likely to be challenged in US courts by opponents who say that Guatemala does not qualify as a “safe” country, because of high levels of violence.Whatever happens with the courts, the agreement has little political support in Guatemala.Mr Morales, who finishes his four-year term in January, is highly unpopular.Among the top Twitter hashtags in Guatemala in recent days has been Jimmyvendepatrias – Jimmy the sellout – as a dig at the country’s leader.Guatemalans were startled by a widely published photo showing their government minister, Enrique Degenhart, signing the agreement as Mr Trump loomed over his shoulder, an image suggesting the Central American country’s submission.On Saturday, hundreds of people demonstrated in front of the presidential palace in Guatemala City to protest the agreement, the Associated Press reported. The protesters carried Guatemalan flags and called for Mr Morales’ resignation.Guatemalan analysts have suggested Mr Morales made the deal with Mr Trump in hopes of winning support from the US government.Mr Morales faces allegations of financial crimes related to his 2015 electoral campaign but has been shielded by presidential immunity, which he loses in January. He says he is innocent.Mr Morales said the agreement would help Guatemala by “putting us in a privileged position” with the country’s top trading partner and most important ally.Guatemala holds a run-off presidential election on 11 August, and both candidates have criticised Mr Morales’ negotiation of such a broad agreement in secret.The accord “is unlikely to be sustainable”, Stephen McFarland, a former US ambassador to Guatemala, wrote in a tweet on the eve of the agreement’s unveiling.“A bitter US ‘win’ would put at risk US goals in democracy and law enforcement with the current and next governments.”While the next Guatemalan government could cancel the agreement, it would face intense pressure from the Trump administration to not do so.Mr Morales’ government signed the pact after Mr Trump threatened severe penalties on Guatemala – tariffs, a travel ban or taxes on the billions of dollars in remittances sent home by migrants in the United States.Kevin McAleenan, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said the administration plans to start the “safe third country” programme with Guatemala in August.Human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers and immigration experts have said Guatemala is too poor and underdeveloped to handle a flood of asylum applicants.Last year, Salvadoran and Honduran migrants filed nearly 58,000 applications for asylum in the United States. That same year, Guatemala received just 259 asylum applications overall.Guatemala is the number one source of irregular migration to the United States, with citizens fleeing poverty, violence, low coffee prices and drought.Eric Schwartz, head of Refugees International and a former top refugee official at the US State Department, said in a statement that the agreement “would represent a grotesque violation of both US law and human decency” and “would put at risk the lives of thousands of Central Americans”.Sonia Lucia Valenzuela, a constitutional law expert in Guatemala, said the Constitutional Court ruling was clear in instructing Mr Morales to send the agreement to Congress but that political pressures could determine what happens next.The migration agreement has been strongly supported by Guatemala’s influential business groups, who had feared US tariffs. But many current and former politicians oppose it.“If the opposition to this accord continues, that’s a sign this will escalate,” she said.Washington Post



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Israeli ambassador says Omar and Tlaib will be allowed in country

Israeli ambassador says Omar and Tlaib will be allowed in countryOmar said the pair are set to visit the country in the coming weeks and has introduced a new resolution supporting the right of Americans to boycott Israel.



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ICE raids scheduled to take place in SoCal, across country

ICE raids scheduled to take place in SoCal, across countryFederal immigration officers are expected Sunday to sweep across a handful of cities, including Los Angeles, to arrest about 2,000 undocumented immigrants.



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Trump Administration Implements ‘Third Country’ Rule to Alleviate Border Crisis

Trump Administration Implements ‘Third Country’ Rule to Alleviate Border CrisisThe Trump administration on Monday announced a new “safe third country” policy that will drastically reduce the number of Central American migrants eligible to receive asylum in the U.S.The new policy, which will take effect when it is published in the Federal Register Tuesday, requires that migrants first apply for refugee status in Mexico, or whatever country they enter after leaving home, before seeking asylum in the U.S. Under the policy, only those migrants who have been denied asylum in another country will be eligible to seek asylum in the U.S.“Ultimately, today's action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits,” Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.The rule change, which is sure to be met with numerous legal challenges, is designed to discourage economic migrants from applying for asylum and includes exceptions for victims of human trafficking and other crimes.Attorney General Bill Barr said the move would stop “forum shopping by economic migrants and those who seek to exploit our asylum system to obtain entry to the United States—while ensuring that no one is removed from the United States who is more likely than not to be tortured or persecuted on account of a protected ground.”The policy shift builds on the previously implemented Migrant Protection Protocols, which required that certain asylum-seekers remain in Mexico while their cases are being adjudicated.Federal law allows anyone who enters the U.S. to apply for asylum but includes an exception for those who first travel through a "safe third country."Currently, the U.S. only has a "safe third country" agreement with Canada and administration officials have thus far been rebuffed in their efforts to secure a similar arrangement with Mexico. Central American countries, including Guatemala and El Salvador, are considering adopting a regional compact to strike a similar deal with the U.S., but there is a legal challenge pending in Guatemala that is now preventing the finalization of any such deal.



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Struggling in White House bid, Democrat Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump country

Struggling in White House bid, Democrat Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump countryU.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand rolled through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan last week on a bus emblazoned with “He broke it, we’ll fix it,” as part of a campaign tour highlighting what she called President Donald Trump’s “broken promises” to the region. Gillibrand told laid-off auto workers in Youngstown, Ohio, and healthcare workers in Pittsburgh she would repair the damage of Trump’s presidency if voters choose her as the Democratic nominee to take him on in November 2020. Posing for selfies with voters after a town hall on gun violence in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on Friday, Gillibrand said she needed thousands more supporters to qualify for the third Democratic primary debate in mid-September.



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California OKs benefits to immigrants in country illegally

California OKs benefits to immigrants in country illegallyCalifornia has become the first state to offer taxpayer-funded health benefits to young adults living in the country illegally. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Tuesday that makes low-income adults age 25 and younger eligible for the state's Medicaid program regardless of their immigration status. California already covers children ages 18 and younger regardless of immigration status.



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Love of country? Or a political stunt? Trump holiday speech divides Americans

Love of country? Or a political stunt? Trump holiday speech divides AmericansJan Shairrick and two friends drove more than a thousand miles from southern Arkansas to join President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” Independence Day celebrations in Washington. Some residents of the capital, however, stayed well away from the nearby festivities for fear of being wrongly identified as Trump supporters. Trump has injected himself into this year’s Fourth of July celebrations by planning a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial and organizing a show of military power that includes a display of tanks and a flyover of fighter jets.



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Democrat Buttigieg proposes expanded national service plan to unify country

Democrat Buttigieg proposes expanded national service plan to unify countryDemocratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is proposing a massive expansion of national service programs in a bid to help unify Americans and bring people from different backgrounds together. Buttigieg, 37, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a military veteran, is due to unveil the plan during a speech on Wednesday in Iowa, where the Democratic nominating contest kicks off in February. “National service can help us to form connections between very different kinds of Americans, as was my experience in the military,” Buttigieg, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as part of the Navy Reserve, said in a news release ahead of the speech.



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Dominican Republic official says country is safe: 'There is not an avalanche of deaths'

Dominican Republic official says country is safe: 'There is not an avalanche of deaths'The Dominican Republic tourism minister said the country is taking the deaths very seriously.



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Trump's visits Buttigieg country for speech at NRA convention but singles out only Bernie Sanders

Trump's visits Buttigieg country for speech at NRA convention but singles out only Bernie SandersPresident Donald Trump visited Pete Buttigieg territory for the NRA convention and mentioned Bernie Sanders but not the South Bend mayor.



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