Guatemala: Leftist Opposition And Alleged Interference By U.S. State Dept Risk Immigration Agreement

The Guatemalan Constitutional Court placed an injunction against Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales ‘ government Saturday from signing the much anticipated ‘Safe Third Country Agreement’ with President Donald Trump on Monday, according to Guatemalan and U.S. officials, who spoke to

Further, sources familiar with the immigration agreement and the deliberations between the two nations say several State Department officials have pushed back against the Trump administration’s proposal and have been supporting those in opposition to the agreement in Guatemala, according to an official with access to both U.S. and Guatemalan sources.

One senior Guatemalan official told this reporter that current Department of Homeland Security Acting Director Kevin K. McAleenan warned Guatemalan officials that the meeting between Trump and Morales will be cancelled unless Guatemala agrees to sign the agreement, which will allow immigrants from any country seeking asylum in the United States to be sent to Guatemala for asylum. The agreement, which some critics say is dangerous to migrants seeking refuge in the United States, is intended to be signed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Governance Ministry of Guatemala.

The Guatemalan official’s statement was not disputed by a senior U.S. official, who said Trump will meet with Morales only if the the agreement is signed. McAleenan could not be immediately reached for comment.

White House officials did not immediately respond for comment.

A State Department official, who spoke on background to this reporter, did not address the direct complaints regarding interference on the part of State Department officials but said
“we do not discuss internal and interagency deliberations, nor do we discuss specific documents or communications that are involved in such deliberations.”
“We are not going to comment on any discussions with Guatemala on this matter,” the State Department official added.
The State Department official referred this news site to the White House statement on President Morales’s upcoming Monday visit. It stated that Morales and Trump “will discuss ways to create a more robust relationship focused on addressing migration and security priorities.  The two leaders will also discuss how Guatemala can build a stronger relationship with its Central American partners to expand economic growth, create jobs, and promote opportunities for their citizens.”

However, the Guatemalan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and is familiar with Monday’s much anticipated meeting between Trump and Morales, said the situation is “looking very bad for the agreement.” For weeks, the Guatemalan and U.S. government has been negotiating for a solution, and the official emphasized that President Morales’s administration has been working with the DHS and is willing to sign at the agreement. As is, it is expected to benefit both the U.S. and Guatemalan government and “ensure the national security of both nations,” the Guatemalan and U.S. officials said.

However, special interest and leftist groups, along with the nation’s Constitutional Court, have sought an injunction to stop Morales from signing the agreement and any other agreement with Central American allies regarding immigration.

“It was first requested to the Constitutional Court by Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman, as well as a group of former Foreign Affairs Minister’s of Guatemala,” said the senior Guatemalan official.

“They requested an injunction against President Morales from signing any agreement with President Trump or to sign any agreement on immigration with the United States, Mexico, Honduras or El Salvador,” the official added.

The agreement was first obtained by The New Yorker and parts of the agreement were published Saturday. The publications states that “asylum seekers from any country who either show up at U.S. ports of entry or are apprehended while crossing between ports of entry could be sent to seek asylum in Guatemala instead.”

A source with access to U.S. and Guatemalan officials, also told, that there has been a back end push against the agreement by State Department officials opposed to the Trump administrations efforts to curtail the extraordinary flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.

“There are State Department officials working against (Trump and Morales) and pushing the leftists in our country to fight Morales in the courts to make him ineffective and stop the agreement,” that official added. “They don’t want to stop illegal immigration. They want it to increase it and they are intent on that happening.”