Guatemala City, Guatemala The Guatemalan government has announced that it will initiate a process to verify and analyze a report by a United States Senate committee, which alleged that personnel from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS ) had engaged in an unauthorized operation in Guatemala, bringing together Hondurans. migrants.
Posted Tuesday by Democrats on the US Senate External Relations Committee, the report (PDF) titled: DHS Run Amok? Reckless overseas operation, violations and lies, alleges the misuse of U.S. government funding and violations of standards and laws in a crackdown on migration across Guatemala in January 2020, aimed at a caravan of Honduran migrants seeking to reach the United States.
He alleges that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol personnel in Guatemala transported an unidentified number of Honduran migrants in unmarked vans for resettlement at the Guatemala-Honduran border.
In doing so, DHS violated an agreement between itself, the United States Department of State, and Guatemala that stated that: United States personnel under this agreement shall not conduct immigration or law enforcement operations; they are in the country for mentoring, counseling and capacity building purposes only, according to the report.
The report argues that DHS has assumed unprecedented influence over U.S. bilateral relations with Guatemala, simultaneously imposing its policy on the Guatemalan government and undermining the traditional role of state departments as the primary steward of policy. American foreigner.
As of January 2020, more than 2,000 Honduran migrants and asylum seekers attempted to reach the United States before many were stranded and detained by Mexican immigration officials and the country’s national guard.
The caravan and DHS operation took place just weeks after the change of government in Guatemala, with Alejandro Giammattei taking office as president on January 14.
The press secretary in the Guatemalan president’s office said the report was an American affair.
This is an internal issue between US agencies that we believe the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee is investigating, Francis Masek, the Presidential Press Secretary in the Guatemalan administration, told Al Jazeera.
The Guatemalan government announced on Wednesday that the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Migration Institute and the Attorney General’s Office would be included in its verification process.
The Guatemalan National Civilian Police (PNC) is also currently analyzing what happened in January, according to Jorge Aguilar, the PNC spokesman, who declined to comment further.
In this October 3 file photo, Honduran migrants sit in an army truck before returning home to Morales, Guatemala [Moises Castillo/AP Photo]Conviction
Migrant rights advocates condemned the allegations made in the report.
This report focuses on how customs and border protection have usurped the roles of the Central American State Department, said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, lawyer and policy adviser to the American Immigration Council, at Al Jazeera.
What this shows is that the CPB intends to control all migration-related diplomacy in the region, regardless of what the State Department deems useful for US diplomatic relations, he said. declared.
And that the CPB is prepared to violate agreements with the State Department and expose the US government to potentially serious legal consequences in order to establish its force in the region and achieve its goal of preventing Central Americans from securing make it to the United States.
Former Guatemalan officials have also condemned the actions of DHS detailed in the report.
This is an usurpation of the functions of the Guatemalan migration authorities, Carlos Menocal, the former Guatemalan interior minister under Alvero Colom’s administration, told Al Jazeera.
Guatemala has maintained agreements with other Central American countries, in particular Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, which allow the entry of these citizens into its national territory. Menocal argues that DHS’s actions violate these and other agreements.
This action violates international treaties, agreements between [Central American] States, and in particular, illegal operations that were committed by United States institutions, Menocal said. From what I understand, there is no international treaty that allows another country to get involved in local immigration issues. It was an illegal action that violated international agreements.
In this October 1, 2020 file photo, a Honduran migrant, part of a caravan to the United States, walks past members of the Guatemalan military in Entre Rios, Guatemala, after crossing the border from Honduras. [File: Johan Ordonez/ AFP]Increased presence
DHS operations reflect an escalation of official U.S. migration presence in the region that began at least in 2012 with the formation of U.S.-funded interagency border security task forces.
The year prior to the reported operation included the deployment of 89 DHS officers to Guatemala to work and train with the Guatemalan Police who form the Ports, Airports and Border Posts Division of the Guatemalan National Police.
For immigrant advocates, the overt involvement of US immigration officials in an intensified crackdown in Guatemala against migrants from other Central American countries continues to reflect the history of international intervention in the region. This is especially clear after the Guatemalan National Police and Army dismantled another caravan in October 2020.
There is a submission by the Guatemalan government to that of the United States, Juan Jose Hurtado, the coordinator of the Guatemalan migrant advocacy group Pop Noj, told Al Jazeera.
We continue to be banana republics, he explained. It is the materialization of the construction of invisible walls. It is the forcing of a border.
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