Home / World / US nears to 'safe third country' pact with Guatemala

US nears to 'safe third country' pact with Guatemala

"Every week it's closer," said an administration official.

The US and Guatemala have been working daily to reach a safe-third agreement, said the official, who added that there has been a lot of progress "but also some setbacks in the negotiations.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has advocated this type of agreement. In June, President Donald Trump tweeted that Guatemala was "getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement."

Officials from both countries are closing in on the agreement multiple efforts by the Trump administration to vote at the flow of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border. Under US law, migrants are allowed to claim asylum once on US soil.

There is a caveat, however, for those who come through safe third countries, meaning the US has entered into an agreement with. The United Nations' refugee agency defines "safe country," a part, as "being countries in which refugees can enjoy asylum without any danger." [ReachinganagreementtheUSisworkingtomakesuretherearesufficientprotectionsinplaceforpeoplewhowouldclaimasyluminGuatemalaaccordingtoanadministrationofficialTherearealmostdailyphonecallstranslatingdocumentsbackandforthtoreachanagreementaccordingtotheofficial

"ASAP," said a DHS official about the agreement on Thursday.

The "will be there on both sides" to come to an agreement, added the official, who pointed out that the upcoming runoff election in Guatemala puts additional pressure to get something done in the next few weeks before the administration enters "lame -duck "status.

President Jimmy Morales will be in Washington. Morales plans to travel to DC on Monday to discuss security, migration and the economy, according to a statement by the country's government on Twitter.

In recent months, migrants from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have accounted for the majority of apprehensions at the southern border. They've had to transit Mexico to reach the border, and upon arriving in the US some have turned themselves into Border Patrol and claimed asylum

Reuters first reported that an agreement was imminent.

"If an agreement is reached, it's a big deal in combating illegal immigration and should lower the monthly apprehension numbers" at the US-Mexico border, said another administration official, who also said the deal appeared close.

A State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs declined to comment on the agreement or discussions with Guatemala.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Leyla Santiago contributed to this story.

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