The President of the United States, Donald Trump, said Wednesday that Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will receive “targeted assistance in the areas of law enforcement and security,” after Washington signed vague asylum agreements with these three countries.
“Guatemala, Honduras & El Salvador have all signed historic Asylum Cooperation Agreements and are working to end the scourge of human smuggling,” Trump tweeted. “To further accelerate this progress, the U.S. will shortly be approving targeted assistance in the areas of law enforcement & security.”
The number of detainees on the border with Mexico has been declining since May, when the flow reached a 13-year maximum.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said in a statement that he informed Congress of his intention to resume foreign aid for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“Earlier this year … I instructed the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to temporarily interrupt assistance to these countries until their governments took sufficient measures to reduce the overwhelming number of migrants arriving at the US border,” Pompeo explained.
Pompeo said that “to allow greater progress in the efforts of these countries, some specific funds from the State Department and USAID will resume.”
According to the diplomat, this will serve to support programs that promote joint efforts to mitigate “illegal immigration” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Trump thanked the three governments and said that now the relationship is “very different.”
“I want to thank the governments of these three countries. We have been working very, very well together,” Trump told reporters at the White House before the announcement.
Criticized asylum agreements
The asylum agreements have been criticized by human rights organizations that say the countries are not safe.
In the specific case of El Salvador, the organization Doctors Without Border said that the country “cannot even guarantee the safety of its own citizens.”
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This announcement comes at a time when the interim secretary of Internal Security (DHS) of the United States, Kevin McAleenan — who announced his resignation last week — is in El Salvador to meet with ministers from the three countries of Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle.
In May, the United States arrested 144,000 people on the border with Mexico, after which it signed agreements with Mexico and then with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to curb irregular migration.
In September, the number of arrests on the southern border dropped to 52,000 people. Still, the arrests over the previous 12 months have added up to almost one million people.
Trump’s national security adviser in charge of Latin America, Mauricio Claver-Carone, told reporters Tuesday that the United States will invite the finance ministers of these countries to the White House this week for a meeting with the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.