The United States will promote negotiations to reach migratory agreements with El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, in line with the seal last week with Guatemala, to curb irregular migration from Central America, a senior US official said.

U.S. President Donald Trump invited Costa Rica to sign the same deal signed by Guatemala last week

Interim US National Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who visits Guatemala to follow up on the pact, told reporters that more similar agreements would stop human trafficking and irregular migration to his country.

“Now we are trying to talk with Honduras and El Salvador to have similar arrangements to those in Guatemala. President Trump also invited Costa Rica and Panama because we see this as a regional responsibility,” McAleenan said through a translator in a meeting with the press.

Last Friday, Guatemala signed an agreement in Washington that, according to the White House, makes it a “safe third country.” Under the agreement, those who aspire to request asylum in the United States and go through this Central American country must make their request there.

McAleenan insisted that the migration phenomenon is “a regional responsibility” and that is why Washington also signed “an important agreement with Mexico to address security issues to attack smugglers” of people.

He said that with the agreements, Central Americans will be able to apply for temporary agricultural visas.

What “is sought is to work with the region, give more access to legal employment in the United States. We do want farmers to come to work in our economy and give these workers protection,” he said.

The interim secretary of National Security of the USA. Kevin McAleenan (left) greets Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at the Palace of Culture in Guatemala City on August 1, 2019. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, the Interior Minister of Guatemala, Enrique Degenhart, told reporters that he expects the country’s highest court of justice, the Constitutional Court (CC), to resolve a shower of amparos (appeals) against the agreement to determine the legal path to follow.

One of the “scenarios” is that the pact begins to function as a bilateral agreement, or that it is subject to debate in Congress,” Degenhart said.

The pact unleashed a wave of criticism in Guatemala, a country with almost 60% poverty, of sectors that believe that the Central American nation does not have conditions to receive migrants and among allegations that it was signed under pressure from Washington.

Degenhart said the agreement was signed without “any threat or pressure” from the United States, although he acknowledged that Trump’s warning of taxing exports and remittances remains in force.

The Northern Triangle

The United States stopped a record 144,000 undocumented immigrants on the Mexican border in May, a peak in 13 years. In June the figure stood at 104,000, an increase of 142% over the previous year.

The majority are families from the so-called Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) of Central America fleeing from the conditions of poverty and violence in their countries.

The Trump administration made the fight against irregular immigration an axis of its campaign and a cornerstone of its government in its quest to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

Secretary McAleenan was emphatic that his country will not give asylum to people who have migrated for economic reasons.