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  • Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales

    Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 July 2019

Both Guatemalan and U.S. government sources suspect Morales will offer his country up to asylum seekers as a safe third country.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales plans to travel to Washington next week to discuss migration and possibly offer up his country as a safe third location for asylum seekers.

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Via Twitter, the Guatemalan government said the head of state would be visiting the northern nation from July 13 until 17 during which time “he will meet with U.S. government officials ... to discuss security, migration, and economic issues," relations between the two countries.

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding Morales' visit. Guatemalan presidential spokesman Alfredo Brito said he did not have more details of the trip.

However, Reuters reported that separate sources from the governments of the U.S. and Guatemala, on the condition of anonymity, said Morales may sign an agreement Monday with Trump to allow asylum seekers to await trial in Guatemala, rather than in the U.S. Both sources emphasized that some details were still being finalized, after weeks of intense negotiations.

Trump stated June 26 that the U.S. and Guatemala were close to reaching a “safe third-country agreement” as part of a larger U.S. effort to stop Central Americans and other nationalities from seeking asylum there, as is their human right under international conventions.

Guatemala has resisted the U.S.'s pressure to host refugees so far, enforcing its own immigration laws, detaining and deporting over 100 people in the last weeks.

In late June, Guatemalan Vice President Jafeth Cabrera insisted that his country was incapable of hosting thousands of migrants or of becoming a Safe Third Country (STC).

"Guatemala has neither the economy nor possibilities of being able to support a number of migrants of that nature," Cabrera told EFE and explained that his country did not offer the U.S. to become a STC.

If it were to happen, Guatemala would be obliged to process asylum claims from those who enter its territory en route to the United States. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the U.S.-Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala.

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