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United States and Guatemala sign Asylum Cooperative Agreement

  1. Original Date Announced

    July 26, 2019

    The United States and Guatemala sign an Asylum Cooperative Agreement (ACA). The agreement, signed by Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan, allows the U.S. to transfer certain asylum seekers to Guatemala. This agreement is not applicable to Guatemalan citizens or residents and guarantees that it will be applied to unaccompanied minors consistent with U.S. law.

    [ID #84]

    Agreement Between the Government of the U.S. and The Government of Guatemala On Cooperation Regarding the Examination of Protection Claims (English) Acuerdo Entre El Gobeierno De Los E.E.U.U. y el Gobierno de la República de Guatemala Relativo a la Cooperación Respecto al Examen de Solicitudes de Protección (Spanish)
  2. Effective Date

    July 21, 2019
  4. Biden Administration Action: Revoked/Replaced

    February 6, 2021

    Suspending and Terminating the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras

    This Biden administration policy revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On Feb. 6, 2021, the State Department announced that the U.S. had suspended and initiated the process to terminate the asylum cooperative agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. According to the press release, the termination of these agreements will be effective only after the notice period stipulated in each of the agreements, but the suspension is effective immediately.

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Current Status

Not in effect

Most Recent Action

February 6, 2021 Action: Revoked/Replaced Suspending and Terminating the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras
February 6, 2021
Acted on by Biden Administration

Original Trump Policy Status

Trump Administration Action: Agency Directive
Agencies Affected: DOJ CBP USCIS

Pre Trump-Era Policies

  • December 29, 2004

    The United States and Canada signed a Safe Third Country Agreement on December 5, 2002, based on mutual acknowledgement of the international legal obligations of the Parties under the principle of non-refoulement set forth in the Convention and Protocol and recognition that both countries offer generous systems of refugee protection, recalling both countries’ traditions of assistance to refugees and displaced persons abroad.

    Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement
  • December 23, 2008

    Section 208(2)(A) established an exception to asylum and allowed return to a "safe third country" only if: "the alien's life or freedom would not be threatened" and "the alien would have a full and fair procedure for determining a claim to asylum or equivalant temporary protection."

    8 U.S. Code § 1158


  • Reuters | Guatemala agrees to new migration measures to avoid Trump sanctions threat

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  • HRF | Failure of Protection

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  • 2021.01.18 Staff Report, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

    On January 18, 2021, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff published a report entitled "Cruelty, Coercion, and Legal Contortions: The Trump Administration's Unsafe Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador." The report finds that "Determinations by the Attorney General and DHS Acting Secretary that Guatemala provides 'full and fair' access to asylum were based on partial truths and ignored State Department concerns" and that "Asylum seekers transferred from the United States to Guatemala under the ACA were subjected to degrading treatment and effectively coerced to return to their home countries of Honduras or El Salvador, where many feared persecution and harm." The report additionally found that "Since implementation of the U.S.-Guatemala ACA began over one year ago, not one of the 945 asylum seekers transferred from the United States to Guatemala has been granted asylum."

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