Washington, D.C.—On September 25, the Trump administration announced it had reached an agreement with Honduras to send asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border to the Central American country, which is one of the most violent and corrupt nations in the world. Amidst the cuts in aid to Central America, the dangerous “Remain in Mexico” agreement, the “safe” third country deals with Guatemala and El Salvador, and the administration’s regulation banning asylum to any person who has travelled through a third country, which was recently temporarily allowed to stay in place by the U.S. Supreme Court, this deal is the latest in a deadly set of policies that outsource international protection obligations, while putting asylum seekers in extreme danger.
“For all practical purposes, people fleeing violence, insecurity, and corruption could now face a deadly set of options if seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border: get sent to Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador,” said Geoff Thale, Vice President for Programs at the Washington Office on Latin America. “Asylum seekers are fleeing lethal conditions in these very countries. Potentially forcing them back to regions unprepared to keep them safe is more than cruel: it’s perverse.”
The litany of cruel actions initiated by the Trump administration has already placed migrants in significant danger, but today’s Honduras deal still stands out for chilling reasons. First, Honduras’ homicide rate is eight times that of the United States, which means asylum seekers could be sent to one of the deadliest countries on the planet. Second, as part of the deal, Cubans and Nicaraguans, despite fleeing countries that the United States regularly condemns, will never have a chance at a fair hearing in the U.S. asylum system and instead get sent to Honduras. Lastly, in what has become a trend of questionably legitimate negotiations, the Trump administration pressed for this agreement with President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose 2017 re-election was probably fraudulent, who has overseen a bloody crackdown on political protest, who has been linked to massive corruption schemes, and who has been implicated in drug trafficking crimes by a U.S. court.
“Honduras, like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexican border towns, is not safe. Period,” continued Thale. “This administration is willing to go to great lengths to further endanger the lives of migrants and asylum seekers who are in vulnerable situations, even if it means negotiating a suspect deal with an individual implicated in trafficking drugs to the United States.”