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The Trump Administration Has Created A Central American Barrier For Asylum-Seekers With A New Honduras Deal

Honduras is the third Central American country through which asylum-seekers will first have to apply for asylum before appealing to the United States.

Posted on September 25, 2019, at 3:15 p.m. ET

Henry Romero / Reuters

The Trump administration signed an agreement Wednesday that will force asylum-seekers who travel through Honduras to first seek protection there, effectively creating a barrier along the entire Central American region known as the Northern Triangle for those trying to get into the United States.

Honduras joined El Salvador and Guatemala in striking similar deals that, once implemented, will force asylum-seekers to first apply for protections in those countries before appealing to the US.

Critics say the Trump administration is forcing people who are fleeing violence and poverty to go back to countries that have a weak asylum system and are unable to protect their own people, let alone immigrants.

Honduras had a homicide rate of 40 per 100,000 people in 2017, while Guatemala's was 22.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, according to InSight Crime.

A senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said that if a person arrives at the southern border seeking protection without first having sought asylum in one of those three Central American countries that they traveled through, "they will be returned" in order to do so.

It's not clear when the latest agreement with Honduras will take effect, but the DHS official said the two countries will now start figuring out how to implement it.

The Trump administration has previously tried to secure a series of agreements with Mexico and other Central American countries. Advocates and experts have long pointed out that such arrangements would leave asylum-seekers in precarious conditions in violent countries that are not able to offer adequate protections.

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