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The Biden administration is ending asylum deals brokered under the Trump administration with three Central American countries just as the number of migrants arriving at the southern border is spiking.
“The United States has suspended and initiated the process to terminate the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as the first concrete steps on the path to greater partnership and collaboration in the region laid out by President Biden,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Saturday.
The agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras required many migrants who showed up at the U.S.–Mexico border to seek asylum in one of those countries first.
The deals with El Salvador and Honduras were never formally enacted, and the agreement with Guatemala has been effectively on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“To be clear, these actions do not mean that the U.S. border is open. While we are committed to expanding legal pathways for protection and opportunity here and in the region, the United States is a country with borders and laws that must be enforced,” Blinken said in the statement.
“We are also committed to providing safe and orderly processing for all who arrive at our border, but those who attempt to migrate irregularly are putting themselves and their families at risk on what can be a very dangerous journey,” he added.
President Biden is looking to undo other aspects of the Trump administration’s stringent immigration enforcement policies as well.
Last week, the Biden administration announced the return of the so-called “catch and release” policy at the southern border, a practice President Trump had issued an order to stop. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reimplementing the Obama-era policy of releasing newly-apprehended migrants back into U.S. cities along the South Texas border, citing coronavirus concerns at detention facilities as well as the rising numbers of apprehended migrants.