The United States will start removing “millions” of undocumented migrants next week, President Donald Trump said Monday, adding that Guatemala is preparing to sign a safe third country deal.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
He added that “Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement,” an apparent reference to a pact in which migrants entering Guatemalan territory would have to apply for refugee status there, not in the United States.
U.S. officials, however, told the Washington Post that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not have the resources to launch operations on the scale Trump proposed Monday and that mass deportations are “not imminent.”
Trump’s announcement also came on the eve of the official launch of his re-election campaign, leading some to speculate the announcement is more rhetorical than serious.
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
The U.S. is seeing a surge in migrant arrivals from Guatemala and other impoverished Central American countries which are plagued by poverty and violence.
Trump has called it “an invasion,” and has made the fight against migration a central plank of his administration.
The numbers of families have overwhelmed the ability of U.S. authorities to process asylum claims and provide them with shelter, food, water, and medicine.
Five children have died while in the custody of U.S. officials since December, and a six-year-old girl died last week in a desert in Arizona after suffering heat stroke. Experts believe thousands of people have died under similar circumstances in recent decades.
Earlier Monday, the U.S. said it would not offer any more aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras unless they take “concrete actions” to deter undocumented migrants from heading for the U.S.
The conditions in this Mexican detention center are so bad that migrants are asking to be deported back to their home country. pic.twitter.com/y2hJ3IZzeK
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 17, 2019
For fiscal 2019, $370 million initially planned will be allocated to other foreign policy priorities, the State Department said, and all future aid is now conditional.
“We will not provide new funds for programs in those countries until we are satisfied the Northern Triangle governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the US border,” Ortagus said.
Under a deal between the U.S. and Mexico this month to avert threatened tariffs, Mexico agreed to deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen to reinforce its southern border and to expand its policy of taking back migrants as the United States processes their asylum claims.