The United States has suspended and initiated the process to terminate the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as the first steps on the path to greater partnership and collaboration in the region laid out by President Joe Biden.
The agreement signed with Guatemala in 2019, allowed the U.S. to send asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras who crossed the U.S. southern border to first seek refuge in Guatemala. Similar agreements were signed with El Salvador and Honduras but never implemented.
The February 2 Executive Order is aimed at creating a comprehensive regional framework to address the causes of migration, manage migration throughout North and Central America, and provide safe and orderly processing of asylum seekers at the U.S. border.
“To be clear,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement, “these actions do not mean that the U.S. border is open. While we are committed to expanding legal pathways for protection and opportunity here and in the region, the United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced.” He added, “We are also committed to providing safe and orderly processing for all who arrive at our border, but those who attempt to migrate irregularly are putting themselves and their families at risk on what can be a very dangerous journey.”
The Biden administration believes there are more suitable ways to work with its partner governments to manage migration across the region. The United States will build on its strong relationships and support these governments’ efforts to address forced displacement without placing undue burden on them, especially as they seek to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our approach,” said Secretary Blinken, “will continue to provide support for their national action plans under the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework through international humanitarian partners.”
The U.S. is committed to addressing the root causes of forced displacement and irregular migration, including by combatting corruption and impunity, upholding its obligations to protect refugees, and working with partners to promote opportunity and prosperity for people and communities across the region.