Asylum Cooperation Agreements/”Safe” Third Country Agreements
On November 19, 2019, the government issued an interim final rule that went into effect the same day allowing for the U.S. to send individuals seeking asylum along the U.S./Mexico border to countries with which the United States has entered into so-called “Asylum Cooperative Agreements” (ACAs). Under this rule, individuals are prohibited from applying for asylum in the U.S. and will be removed to a third country if certain requirements are met. Namely: (1) the U.S. enters into an agreement with a country that is a “third country” for the asylum seeker; (2) the asylum seeker’s “life or freedom would not be threatened in that third country” on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group; and (3) the “third country provides [asylum seekers] removed there…’access to a full and fair procedure for determining a claim to asylum or equivalent temporary protections.'” The U.S. has reached agreements with Guatemala, EL Salvador and Honduras. None of these countries are safe for LGBTQ and HIV-positive people, who face widespread persecution and abuse in these countries. The U.S. has already begun removing people to Guatemala. The policy has been challenged in federal court.