The US wants to offer Guatemala more farm visas for its citizens, in a bid to convince the incoming president, Alejandro Giammattei, to support the asylum deal reached in July between Guatemala’s outgoing president and the United States.
White House Latin America adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone, during a trip to Guatemala has proposed the US could grant three times more H-2A visas for Guatemalans, in exchange for the legislation to back the asylum deal.
“We could help Guatemala by tripling the H-2A program,” he told reporters last Monday in the Guatemala City, adding no further details on the offer.
The H-2A visa is for foreigners who wish to work on temporary or seasonal agricultural work. There is a list of limited countries the nationals of which can apply for this visa. Guatemala is listed as one of the beneficiary countries.
According to US government data, last year nearly 4,000 Guatemalans benefited from the program. On the other hand, Mexican farmworkers were awarded around 180,000 H-2A visas in the same year. If the Guatemalan government accepts the offer, about 12,000 of its citizens will benefit next year.
The asylum agreement, known as the “safe third country” was reached at the end of July between Donald Trump and outgoing president Jimmy Morales under threat sanctions issued by the first. The deal foresees that Guatemala will restrict asylum applications to the US for migrants that cross Guatemala on their way, including Salvadorans and Hondurans.
However, the agreement needs to be approved by the legislature of Guatemala and the US congress for it to come into force. The incoming president of Guatemala has criticized the deal as “not right for the country,” asserting that Guatemala lacks of resources to provide for asylum seekers.
Immigrant rights advocates have called the deal cruel and unlawful.