Honduras Becomes The Latest Country To Sign A ‘Safe Third Country’ Agreement With The US And Here’s Why It’s So Important
Honestly, there is so much chaos these days in the Trump administration, with talks of impeachment, conspiracies involving whistleblowers and the Ukrainian President, and just generally wild statements from the White House, you’d be forgiven for missing the actual policy decisions made by the government. So, it’s important you know this: the US has announced a new deal with Honduras – the details of which would see migrants sent to wait there while the American court system processes asylum applications.
The migration deal was announced September 25.
From the sounds of it, the deal was struck between the Department of Homeland Security, and the current Honduran administration, headed by President Juan Orlando Hernández. Just to clarify, this is the same Honduras that has the reputation for being one of the most violent and unstable nations in the world. You know, the country that plenty of people have been fleeing from due to prolific gang violence and expansive drug industry. In fact, in the last 11 months alone, over 250,000 Hondurans have crossed the US border due to the dire situation in their homeland.
The news comes as Honduras’ president is accused of basically running a ‘narco state.’
The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise in the face of allegations from US federal prosecutors that Honduras’ President Hernández is essentially running a narco-state. It is alleged that the current, and former, Honduran presidents have accepted campaign contributions from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection. Granted, these accusations fly in the face of the US government’s official stance on Honduras, which has supported Hernández’s administration and donated millions as part of security efforts to stem the flow of cocaine from South America to the US.
You’re not crazy if you think you’ve heard this story before.
The Trump administration has already come under fire for its policy that’s seeing scores of migrants forced to travel to Mexico to await a decision on their applications. While Mexico has its own issues with drug trafficking and gang violence, it would seem that it has a ways to go before it can compete with Honduras on that front. And yet, migrants are finding that the conditions in Mexico are too perilous to stay, with some even traveling back to their home countries rather than risking more time in what’s proving to be a distinctly hostile environment for asylum seekers.
Imagine the chaos that’s in store when Honduras is added to the list of countries these asylum seekers must stay in while they await an outcome on their applications.
This agreement basically ensures that people with genuine fears for their safety and well-being will be denied asylum in the US.
And sure, we’re no legal experts, but we can take an educated guess around how the Trump administration could justify its decision to expand its “safe third country agreement” to include countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, and now Honduras. Asylum seekers are unable to gain entry into the US by citing fears of domestic abuse, or gang violence – largely because it’s difficult to prove. So, following that logic, gang violence isn’t enough to deter the Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait their turn in these countries.
The United Nations has said that including countries such as Mexico in the “safe third country agreement” is in violation of the US’ international obligations.
The UNHCR released a statement back in July that “the rule excessively curtails the right to apply for asylum, jeopardizes the right to protection from refoulement, significantly raises the burden of proof on asylum seekers beyond the international legal standard, sharply curtails basic rights and freedoms of those who manage to meet it, and is not in line with international obligations.” It went on to say that, horrifyingly, “individuals entering the United States across the southern U.S. land border will be regarded as ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country first and did not attempt to seek asylum there before moving to the U.S. border, regardless of whether they had access to effective international protection in those transit countries.”
It means that, in order to even be eligible in the first place for asylum in the US, migrants have to also pursue asylum applications in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala – and now Honduras.
Despite the dangers that these countries pose to migrants. But you know what country does fall into the “safe third country agreement” category? Canada. Of course. The country that’s literally to the north of the US, and nowhere near South America, where all of these South American migrants are coming from. These desperate souls are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
While we wish we could leave you with words of wisdom on this topic, it’s really difficult in the face of this new policy announcement. Can you tell we’re getting frustrated, people? Because, coming from a frustrated bystander, this is hella frustrating.