** People rescuing an injured passenger from inside a passenger bus hit by a truck on Dhaka-Mawa Expressway in Shologhar area of Shreenagar upazila in Munshiganj on Thursday. ** Motorcycles allowed on Padma Bridge after 10 months ** Commuters charge extra fare, passengers disappointed ** 78 people killed in Yemen stampede ** Moon sighting committee meets today to ascertain Eid day ** 9 killed in road accidents in 3 districts ** US announces new $325 m military aid package for Ukraine ** Eid-ul-Fitr in Saudi Arabia today ** Eid exodus begins ** LPG price cut illusive ** 15 hurt as bus overturns in capital ** New interbank cheque clearing timings set for Eid holidays ** Four women hit by a train die in Tangail ** 12.28 lakh SIM users left Dhaka on Tuesday ** Sylhet engineer threatened over power outage ** People rush to village homes to spend Eid holidays with their near and dear ones. This photo was taken from Sadarghat Launch Terminal on Tuesday. NN photo ** Surge in cases of dehydration, diarrhoea amid summer heat wave ** Padma Bridge construction cost increases by Tk 2,412cr ** PM gives Tk 90m to Bangabazar fire victims ** Textile workers block highway demanding wage, Eid bonus ** Attack on PM's motorcade Ex-BNP MP, 3 others get life term ** Load-shedding increases for demand of electricity during heat wave ** Motorbikes to be allowed on Padma bridge from Thursday ** 5-day Eid vacation begins from today ** Take Nangalkot train accident as a warning about negligence of govt functionaries **

US, Guatemala sign controversial asylum deal

28 July 2019 AFP, Washington
US, Guatemala sign controversial asylum deal

A view of Guatemala City, capital of the tiny Central American country that the Trump Administration signed an asylum agreement with on Friday.

President Donald Trump announced Friday that a "landmark" asylum agreement has been reached with Guatemala, as the United States ratchets up pressure on its southern neighbors to stem the flow of migrants towards its border.
The White House said Guatemala would now be considered a "safe third country," meaning that US-bound migrants who enter Guatemala would be required to seek asylum there instead.
But the US Department of Homeland Security said the term did not appear in the text agreed on Friday, of which few details were initially known.
Trump said the deal will "provide safety to legitimate asylum seekers and stop asylum fraud" in the region.
"This landmark agreement will put the coyotes and smugglers out of business," the president said, referring to the "bad people" who have trafficked thousands of migrants through Mexico to the southern US border.
The agreement comes days after Trump threatened tough retaliation against the small Central American country if it did not sign on to an asylum deal -threatening a travel ban, tariffs, remittance fees or "all of the above."
Friday's agreement, signed in the Oval Office by Guatemala's interior minister, Enrique Degenhart, and US Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, would likely apply to Salvadoran or Honduran migrants passing through Guatemala towards the United States.
Their asylum claims and determinations "should be made at the earliest possible point," McAleenan told reporters on a press call.
If Central American migrants instead "make a journey all the way to the US border, they would be removable back to Guatemala if they want to seek asylum," he added.
The deal is expected to be up and running in August, McAleenan said.
US authorities have recorded a dramatic rise in detentions of migrants over the past year, many of those fleeing chronic poverty and gruesome gang violence in Central America.
It was not immediately clear how the agreement signed Friday would jibe with a provision of Guatemala's constitutional court, which recently blocked the idea of a deal making Guatemala a "safe third country" for asylum requests.
McAleenan conceded that the term "is a colloquialism" and is not in the text itself.
A top Democrat assailed the deal as "cruel and immoral," as well as illegal, arguing that Guatemala lacks sufficient asylum and protection processes.
"Simply put, Guatemala is not a safe country for refugees and asylum seekers, as the law requires," said House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel, adding that he expects the "counterproductive" deal to be challenged in the courts.
The non-governmental organization Refugees International called the agreement "very alarming" and said it would put "some of the most vulnerable people in Central America in grave danger" because Guatemala is not safe for refugees and asylum seekers, the group's president Eric Schwartz said.
McAleenan insisted Guatemala has been undergoing an "evolution" in providing asylum protection.
"Guatemala has had a significant reduction in their murder rate and violent crime rate in the last five years," he added.

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