Jan 20, 2020
Over the last month, at least 143 people from Honduras and El Salvador who had applied for asylum in the U.S. were shipped to Guatemala. Many of them were not even told where they were going until after the plane landed. They were then given an immediate choice: apply for asylum in Guatemala, or leave that country within 72 hours.
These migrants—many of them children—have to choose between braving the journey to the U.S. again, or returning home to the likely deaths they fled in the first place, or staying in a country just as poor as the one they left, where they have no ties and face the same gangs that operate in their home countries.
In fiscal 2019, 264,000 people from Guatemala itself were detained at the U.S. border, the most of any country. Most of these Guatemalan migrants surrendered to the Border Patrol and applied for asylum from the gang violence rampant in their home country. That’s why, according to Guatemala’s migration agency, only five of the people the U.S. has sent there have applied for asylum in Guatemala. As one Honduran mother who was fleeing with her son after he was shot in the face by gangsters put it, “why would they send us to a country where the same gangs are operating?”
This is the U.S. government’s latest cynical solution to the very real crisis at the border: throw the refugees to the wolves.