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Tags: Guatemala | US | Mexico

Mexico Deports Central Americans after Being Flown in by US

Wednesday, 11 August 2021 06:00 PM

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Central American asylum-seekers being expelled by the United States and flown deep into Mexico for deportation to their homelands drew concerns from the U.N. refugee agency Wednesday about the treatment of vulnerable migrants needing humanitarian protection.

Details of the highly unusual bilateral effort also began trickling out, with a Guatemalan official saying that Mexico is busing Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans to remote border crossings with Guatemala after they arrive on U.S. government flights. Mexican immigration agency buses are unloading migrants from those flights at international crossings in El Carmen and El Ceibo. The latter is a particularly remote outpost where there is a small shelter, but little else.

Guatemala is not participating in the joint campaign, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. Homeland Security Department confirmed last week that it had begun expelling migrants by air to Mexico under a pandemic-related authority that prevents migrants from seeking asylum at the border. Officials speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press the flights include Central American families who are to be deported by Mexico to their homelands after landing.

Matthew Reynolds, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative to the United States and Caribbean, said returning asylum-seekers to their countries without proper screening for the dangers they are fleeing would violate international law.

“Individuals or families aboard those flights who may have urgent protection needs risk being sent back to the very dangers they have fled in their countries of origin in Central America without any opportunity to have those needs assessed and addressed,” Reynolds said in a statement.

The flights to southern Mexico also strain limited humanitarian resources there and raise the risk of coronavirus infection, he said.

Mexico's immigration agency did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Homeland Security Department, which has not responded to questions about the flights since the first one last Thursday, said the frequency of repeat crossers and transmissibility of the delta variant of the coronavirus necessitated resumption of flights to Mexico.

For years, the U.S. government has intermittently flown deported Mexican migrants back home to make it more difficult to try to cross the border again, but this appears to be the first time it has flown Central Americans to Mexico instead of their home countries.

The move comes after President Joe Biden jettisoned many of his predecessor's hardline immigration policies, describing them as cruel or unwise, including one that made asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in U.S. immigration court.

Biden also scrapped agreements with Central American countries for asylum-seekers to be sent there to have their claims heard, denying any prospect of settling in the United States.

Repeated efforts by Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other top U.S. officials to discourage Central Americans from making the journey to the U.S. border have fallen flat.

July will likely mark the highest monthly count of unaccompanied children picked up by U.S. agents at the border with Mexico and the second-highest number of people arriving in families, David Shahoulian, Homeland Security assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, said in a court filing last week.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Central American asylum-seekers being expelled by the United States and flown deep into Mexico for deportation to their homelands drew concerns from the U.N. refugee agency Wednesday about the treatment of vulnerable migrants needing humanitarian protection.Details of the...
Guatemala,US,Mexico
534
2021-00-11
Wednesday, 11 August 2021 06:00 PM
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