- The U.S. government must “pressure” countries to shut down the flow of illegal immigrants from outside Central America headed for the southern border, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatte told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an exclusive interview from his presidential mansion. .
- Guatemala is deploying its special forces on its southern border with Honduras to stem the flow of illegal immigrants who previously had free passage on their journeys.
- “We believe it is necessary for the United States to exert political pressure to prevent this from happening. Otherwise, they become facilitators of the traffickers, a very, very profitable business for the traffickers,” Giammattei told DCNF.
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei criticized the US government, saying it “must take action” and “pressure other countries” to stop non-Central American migrants without ID cards or passports from reaching the southern border.
If the US took such steps to pressure other countries, it would help combat the lucrative business of human trafficking. Guatemala faces many problems with countries such as Honduras, which allows undocumented illegal immigrants from around the world to cross before arriving in Guatemala, one of the last countries they will travel through before entering Mexico and then the U.S., Giammattei explained . (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘We lost everything’: Afghan migrants stranded in Guatemala have a message for Biden)
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua have an agreement, called CA-4, that allows people with passports from these countries to move freely throughout Central America.
“We believe it is necessary for the United States to exert political pressure to prevent this from happening. Otherwise, they [the U.S. government] they become facilitators of the traffickers, a very, very lucrative business for the traffickers,” Giamatti said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation at the presidential palace.
Illegal immigration to the US has increased since President Joe Biden took office and repealed several Trump administration policies used to discourage and deport immigrants. US authorities have seen a record nearly 2.3 million migrants cross the southern border between October 2021 and September 2022.
During fiscal year 2022, there were more than 800,000 migrant encounters from Mexico and Central America.
Guatemala has deployed 200 to 300 special forces to push illegal immigrants crossing the country’s southern border into Honduras, Giammattei explained. Immigrants who do not have citizenship in Central America and are present without the required documents are considered illegal entrants.
“The problem is that Honduras doesn’t want them back. And they let them pass without a passport. And that’s not right. This violates international laws, because I cannot give free passage to people who want to cross my country to travel north,” Giammattei said.
“This time, you have nationals from Haiti, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, all of them crossing into Guatemala without proper documentation. We in Guatemala cannot issue visas for all these people. So Honduras is clearly violating international agreements and diplomatic principles. And if this is not a result, we will have to take drastic measures,” he added.
A Venezuelan migrant told DCNF along the Honduran-Guatemala border that their country is exploiting them for money.
“All countries want to charge us,” he said. “We are abused, just because we are immigrants. They take away what we don’t have.”
“Unfortunately, we are forced to pay because of this. We have to give everything we have. We are robbed, women are raped and others are killed simply because they did not pay to pass,” he said.
Giammattei condemned the process, saying countries along the way are allowing traffickers to get rich because of their policies.
“Behind all that you see, there is human trafficking at play,” Giammattei explained. “These people have to pay the governments, they have to pay the traffickers to get through this passage. And, thus, we allow people to go through exactly as it has happened. We allow human trafficking. And this is a very profitable business for these traffickers.”
Guatemala passed a law in February to target traffickers with stiffer penalties of up to 30 years in prison. Giammattei said that in order to avoid risks to US national security, the Biden administration must take similar measures.
US law punishes smugglers with decades in prison and sometimes up to life behind bars.
“If we let them through, we ourselves would be violating our own ordinances, which we are not going to allow,” Giamattei said. “We have absolute clarity about what our role is here. And, in fact, we are the only country in Central America that blocks that safe passage for these illegal immigrants. Other countries simply give them a pass or simply facilitate their passage without requiring any form of identification. And that represents a serious security problem for the United States.”
“If we let these people cross into Mexico and the United States runs the risk of finding people without these IDs, so it’s our obligation not to allow that to happen. And for that reason we see that the problem is that the United States is not taking action and they need to take action and they need to push other countries to take some steps to prevent this,” he said.
The White House did not respond to DCNF’s request for comment.
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