U.S. Starts Pushing Families Seeking Asylum to Guatemala, Even if They Are Not From There

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A migrant from Guatemala watches border patrol officers through the border fence at the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 2, 2019. (Credit: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

A migrant from Guatemala watches border patrol officers through the border fence at the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 2, 2019. (Credit: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. officials have started to send families seeking asylum to Guatemala, even if they are not from the Central American country and had sought protection in the United States, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

In July, the Trump administration announced a new rule effectively ending asylum at the southern U.S. border and requiring asylum seekers to claim protection elsewhere. Under the rule — which currently faces legal challenges — virtually any migrant who passes through another country before reaching the U.S. border and does not seek asylum there will be deemed ineligible for protection in the United States. Guatemala’s highest court initially said the country’s president couldn’t unilaterally enter into an agreement with the United States to take the asylum seekers, but since late November, U.S. officials have forcibly returned individuals to Guatemala.

U.S. officials said they would return only single adults at first. But starting Tuesday, they began applying the policy to non-Guatemalan parents and children, according to communications obtained by The Times and several U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials.

A family of three from Honduras who were served with notice on Tuesday that they’d soon be deported to Guatemala would be the first to be sent to that country under the new policy.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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