U.S. Finalizes Honduran Asylum Cooperation Agreement
Addressing asylum abuse remains a top priority for the Trump administration even amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. After months of negotiations, the Trump administration reached an asylum cooperation deal with the Honduran government. The deal makes it easier to deport illegal aliens to Honduras and requires asylum seekers passing through the country to apply for asylum there before applying in the U.S.
The agreement will help reduce asylum abuse in the United States, protect the interests of migrants, and highlights the improved immigration cooperation between the United States and Honduras.
Under this agreement, migrants will no longer be able to ‘country shop’ and bypass first safe countries or other nearby countries that can offer protection from government persecution. Migrants who transit through Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border are generally searching for improved job prospects. These ambitions contributed to more than 132,000 illegal alien apprehensions at the U.S. border in May of 2019, a figure not seen in more than a decade.
Seeking better economic opportunities does not qualify for asylum in the United States, which may explain why immigration courts approve claims for roughly 11 percent of asylum seekers. Migrants must face government persecution in their country of origin based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership to a particular social group in order to qualify for asylum in the U.S.
The new U.S.-Honduras asylum agreement also deters migrants from making the dangerous trek to the U.S. border. This trek can be thousands of miles for some migrants and is prone to human smuggler and cartel activity. The White House has revealed that 70 percent of migrants become victims of violence along the journey, with 31 percent of women reportedly facing sexual violence. Migrants are now required to apply for asylum in Honduras first before applying for asylum in the United States, which may dissuade fraudulent asylum seekers from coming to the U.S. border.
Having Honduras participate in an asylum cooperation agreement demonstrates the resolve of the Trump administration to end widespread asylum abuse. Previous administrations have not come up with a similar type of agreement, which may explain why our nation faces a 1,000,000 immigration case backlog in our immigration courts.
Apart from the Honduran asylum agreement, the administration has tackled asylum abuse by striking asylum deals with the Guatemalan and Salvadoran governments. The U.S. has also implemented the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) program, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their immigration court date arrives in the U.S. This is another tool that deters economic migrants from defrauding the nation’s limited asylum system.
There has been some suspicion that the Honduran government will not follow through with its agreement as it currently does not have the asylum capacity to take in thousands of migrants.
Because so many “asylum-seekers” are actually economic migrants, it is unlikely that this agreement will result in Honduras being overwhelmed with an influx of migrants. Economic migrants are unlikely to be attracted to a developing nation, while legitimate asylum seekers will welcome refuge and any country where they will not face persecution.
As migrants begin to realize that they cannot exploit the U.S. asylum system anymore and be granted immediate entry into the country, they will remain in their countries of origin. This change will allow them to not take on the horrific conditions of the asylum journey to the U.S. border and ultimately Honduras should see fewer migrants arriving or passing through its country.