Guatemalan Reaction to President Biden's Immigration Reform Statements

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The purpose of this article is to give a sampling of Guatemalan policymaker and thought leader opinion regarding President Biden and his current and proposed immigration reform. The Biden Administration ended the Cooperation Agreement on Asylum (ACA), also known as a safe third country, signed in July 2019 by President Trump. The Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minex) reacted very positively to Biden’s action, stating:

“The Government of Guatemala welcomes what was expressed by President Joe Biden regarding his government's commitment to our country and the region, aimed at maintaining close collaboration and coordination to face together the challenges related to the causes of irregular migration, its high risks for people, as well as the generation of integral development that guarantees prosperity in our countries.” [1]

Overall, there is high expectations of the new President and reaction has been favorable with very little pessimism.

Sampling of reactions:

Úrsula Roldán, director of the Institute for Research and Projection on Global and Territorial Dynamics of the Rafael Landívar University reacted positively to ACA termination, stating: “What President Biden does is restore the asylum and refuge system; it is like having policies that have clarity and transparency on these issues, as well as clarity in political negotiations with countries on migration and refugees.” She considered that signing the ACA was a form of blackmail of Central American countries by the Trump administration in order to ensure that one of Trump’s campaign promises was fulfilled, which was to control migration. Roldán further added: "in terms of Honduras and Guatemala, (the ACA negotiation) was used to maintain impunity," adding that this "was like closing our eyes to the corruption and impunity.” [2]

Raul Molina from Guatemala’s El Periodico said “Joe Biden's immigration measures, coming within fifteen days of taking office, clearly show the intention to cancel the previous anti-immigration policy and reverse the dozens of repressive and inhumane measures that characterized it. It has been recognized that it is urgent to dismantle these measures with a “humanization” approach to migration.” For now, Biden's measures focus on immigrants in the United States but he added that it is “up to the Government of Guatemala to immediately address the future migration of the country, to avoid the calamities suffered by those who travel north as people without rights, exposed to robberies, kidnappings and death at the hands of authorities and criminals, such as the recent tragedy in Tamaulipas (Mexico). It is urgent to eliminate the traffic via “coyotes'' and instead of spending ten thousand dollars just paying for an air ticket.” [3]

Sergio Recinos, president of the Bank of Guatemala (BANGUAT) explained that in June 2021 the Latino unemployment indicator is expected to return to levels before the effects of the pandemic. He felt this would be due in part to Biden’s reforms that could cause remittances to increase in Guatemala—a positive result of a decline in deportations [4].

Finally, Jahir Dabroy, an analyst on migration issues at the Asociación de Investigación de Estudios Sociales (ASIES) recalled that many Guatemalan migrants are now employed in the U.S. very productively and that their process of regularization (of about 11 million people) would take eight years, but that accelerating this could benefit Guatemala “enormously”. He remarked that the conditions are in place and the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in requesting a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for these migrants would be a priority in talks with the United States [5].

Conclusion:

Overall, Guatemalan policymakers and thought leaders see hope moving forward with the Biden Administration and see the termination of ACA as a very good first step. There is more to be done and the hope of more U.S. immigration reform, with input from the Guatemalan MINEX, remains high at this point in time.

Notes:

[1]. “Cancillería: Todos los días llegan migrantes a la Frontera Sur de EE. UU.” La Hora, February 21, 2021, accessed at: https://lahora.gt/cancilleria-todos-...-sur-de-ee-uu/

[2] Canamid Migration Dialogue, Ursula Roldan. Accessed at: http://www.canamid.org/en/participant?id=ursula-roldan

[3] “Medidas iniciales del presidente Biden con respecto a la migración,” La Hora, February 5, 2021, accessed at: https://lahora.gt/medidas-iniciales-...-la-migracion/

[4]. “Suben remesas en enero: Empleo hispano y políticas migratorias favorecen a Guatemala,” Prensa Libre, February 4, 2021, accessed at: https://www.prensalibre.com/economia...n-a-guatemala/

[5]. “Esta es la propuesta de Joe Biden para dar ciudadanía a 11 millones de indocumentados,” Prensa Libre, February 18, 2021, accessed at: https://www.prensalibre.com/guatemal...ndocumentados/


About The Author

Robert Kirkland

is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and operational Latin American Foreign Area Officer. He has a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, West Point and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of Pittsburgh. He also has a graduate certificate in Latin American Studies from the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He also helps guide students in

Service Academy admissions

as well as

ROTC scholarships

. He has provided expert testimony on drug cartel and gang violence in Mexico and Central America since his retirement from the Army in 2014. He can be reached at

info@ robertkirklandconsulting.com or at his website

.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.