As the Trump-era migrant expulsion policy, Title 42, is set to be lifted on May 11, Guatemala makes it clear that it does not want to become a haven for illegal immigrants. The Guatemalan president’s spokesperson, Kevin Lopez Oliva, told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “We just want to make something clear: we are not going to be a safe third country.”
The Biden administration plans to open migrant processing centers in Guatemala and Colombia to help manage the anticipated surge of U.S.-bound migrants following the end of Title 42. However, Guatemala remains concerned about the influx of migrants and the effects of the U.S.’ new policies.
EXCLUSIVE: Guatemala Braces For Impact, Says It Won’t Be A Haven For Illegal Immigrants As Trump-Era Policy Ends
— Jennie Taer (@JennieSTaer) May 5, 2023
Oliva emphasized that Guatemala remains the United States’ only ally in immigration enforcement because other Central American countries are letting everyone pass through. “But we are still stopping the caravans, we’re still enforcing our laws on our borders,” he said.
Previously, Guatemala requested assistance from the Biden administration, including planes and buses, to deport migrants. However, the U.S. denied the request. With the expected increase in migrants due to the lifting of Title 42, Guatemala is preparing by sending military forces to the border while the police enforce border laws to stop caravans.
The head of Guatemala’s immigration agency also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, urging him to provide more resources to help with the expected migrant surge.
As the deadline for the expiration of Title 42 nears, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) has noted a significant uptick in illegal immigration. He said, “The agents are beyond an exhausting point. And it’s not just at the border. Now what you’re seeing is places 100, 150 miles from the border are just as overwhelmed as if they were on the Rio Grande themselves.”
Facing a potentially historic migrant surge, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made a final plea for migrants not to attempt to cross into the U.S. illegally, warning them that they are being “deceived” by smugglers. “The border is not open,” Mayorkas said. “It has not been open, and it will not be open subsequent to May 11.”
Mayorkas also highlighted that the administration has a plan, which includes the deployment of 1,500 troops to the southern border and establishment of migrant processing centers across Latin America. He called for Congress to fix the “broken” immigration system.
However, the administration’s preparations have yet to assure lawmakers. Multiple Republican senators have called on President Biden to reverse course on Title 42, while a bipartisan coalition of senators introduced legislation to grant DHS a Title 42-esque authority for two years.
As the end of Title 42 approaches, U.S. border cities and agents are already experiencing a surge at the border, with Customs and Border Protection sources reporting 8,000 encounters a day in the first days of May. The situation is concerning, and it remains to be seen how the Biden administration and its allies, like Guatemala, will handle the crisis moving forward.