The United States deported a Honduran asylum seeker on Thursday for the first time since the Supreme Court green-lighted the Trump administration’s third-country rule. Immigration authorities sent the man from the U.S. border at El Paso, Texas, to Guatemala, and from there he opted to return to Honduras.
Erwin José Ardón Montoya arrived home in the village of Colón, Honduras on Saturday. He said he has an infant daughter in the United States, and he might try to get into the country again next year. More flights carrying asylum seekers to Guatemala will likely take place next week.
The United States and Guatemala signed a third-country agreement in July that means asylum seekers have to first file claims in Guatemala if they pass through it on their way to the U.S. border. The land routes from Honduras and El Salvador both pass through Guatemala. The move was one aspect of President Donald Trump’s push to stem the flow of immigrants across the southern border.
The Trump administration intends to send the asylum seekers to Guatemala City, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said. But many critics argue that Guatemala, which struggles with violence and poverty, is anything but a safe third country. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich