Some Mexicans seeking asylum in the U.S. will be sent to Guatemala as part of a bilateral agreement, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to NBC News.
“Certain Mexicans seeking humanitarian protections in the United States may now be eligible to be transferred to Guatemala and given the opportunity to seek protection there, under the terms of the Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement Monday.
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Emails detailing the implementation of the plan were sent to asylum officials in recent days, as first reported by BuzzFeed News.
The emails said Mexican nationals will be included in the populations “amenable” to the agreement with Guatemala.
The agreement, brokered last July between President Donald Trump’s administration and the outgoing Guatemalan government, allows U.S. immigration officials to send migrants requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for protection in Guatemala instead.
Trump’s administration made similar deals with Honduras and El Salvador last year.
Critics of the agreements have said sending migrants to those violence plagued Central American countries could further endanger them, as well as keep out those with valid asylum claims.
They have also said the countries do not have the capacity in their asylum systems to take on the migrants’ claims.