Washington, DC—On September 12, representatives from the United States and Honduras governments are set to negotiate a potential “safe” third country agreement, one that will reportedly require asylum seekers who first traveled through Honduras on their journey to the United States to return to Honduras to apply for protection. This will especially impact Cuban and Nicaraguan asylum seekers, who make up the bulk of those transiting through Honduras toward the United States. While details of a potential agreement are still unknown, the insecurity and conditions that asylum seekers could be subjected to in Honduras are well-documented. Honduras’ homicide rate is eight times that of the United States. Businesses suffer extortion threats so regularly that the Honduran Chamber of Commerce no longer publishes an official registry of its members. The U.S. State Department tells travelers to avoid all public transportation in the country because gang members are known to kill drivers for falling behind on extortion payments. Conditions in Honduras are so grave that, in the past 11 months, 1 in every 40 Honduran citizens was apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border after fleeing their country.
“Honduras is not a safe country for asylum seekers, and considering it so highlights the main motivation of the Trump administration’s approach to migration policy: cruelty,” said WOLA Director for Citizen Security Adriana Beltrán. “The tragic irony of this potential agreement is that Nicaraguans fleeing unchecked attacks against human rights defenders, political suppression, and crackdowns on protesters may now be forced to apply for asylum in a country where similar abuses routinely take place. Meanwhile, Cubans seeking a better life may now be forced to remain in one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.”
This negotiation is the latest action in a barrage of draconian, hardline migration policies unveiled by the Trump administration. Many of these actions have sought to shift the responsibility of processing asylum seekers to other countries without actually addressing the root issues at hand—and often creating even more dangerous and tenuous situations. In January of this year, for instance, the United States bullied Mexico into receiving U.S. asylum seekers—who are waiting for their U.S. immigration proceedings—in dangerous Mexican border towns. Earlier this summer, the United States forced Guatemala to accept a “safe” third country agreement that could potentially force people fleeing violence and corruption to apply for protection in a country very similar to the one they’ve just fled.
“The Trump administration’s approach to migration is chilling: never let migrants escape the violence, poverty, or corruption that they, rightfully, need to escape,” added Beltrán. “These tactics aren’t producing any solutions to the current humanitarian disaster on the U.S. border and throughout the region. If you want to see real, sustainable results, then invest in good governance, protect the progress we’ve made on anti-corruption efforts in the region, address the endemic violence—work to reverse the root causes of migration.”