EXCLUSIVE: ‘Smuggler enablers’: Guatemalan president says US must ‘pressure’ countries to stop flow of illegal migrants

  • The US government must ‘pressure’ countries to stop the flow of illegal migrants from outside Central America heading to the southern border, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an exclusive interview from his presidential palace. .
  • Guatemala is deploying its special forces on the southern border with Honduras to stop the flow of illegal migrants who previously had free passage on their journeys.
  • “We think it is necessary for the United States to exert political pressure to prevent this from happening. Otherwise, they become facilitators of traffickers, a very, very lucrative business for traffickers,” Giammattei told the DCNF.

CITY OF GUATEMALA, Guatemala — Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has criticized the US government, saying it “should take action” and “pressure other countries” to stop migrants from outside Central America without identity cards or passport to travel to the southern border.

If the United States took such steps to put pressure on other countries, it would help combat the lucrative business of human trafficking. Guatemala faces many problems with countries like Honduras, which allows illegal migrants without identification from all over the world to cross before reaching Guatemala, one of the last countries they will pass through before entering Mexico. then in the United States, explained Giammattei. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: ‘We’ve lost everything’: Afghan migrants stuck in Guatemala have a message for Biden)

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua have an agreement, called CA-4, which allows the free movement of people with passports from these countries 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] become facilitators of traffickers, a very, very lucrative business for traffickers,” Giammattei said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation at his presidential palace.

Illegal immigration to the United States has increased since President Joe Biden took office and repealed several Trump administration policies used to discourage and deport migrants. US authorities saw a record nearly 2.3 million migrants crossing the southern border between October 2021 and September 2022.

In fiscal year 2022, there were more than 800,000 migrant encounters outside of Mexico and Central America.

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Guatemala has deployed 200 to 300 special forces to repel illegal migrants crossing the country’s southern border into Honduras, Giammattei said. Migrants who do not have Central American nationality and who are present without the required documents are considered illegal entrants.

“The problem is that Honduras doesn’t want them to come back. And they let them pass without a passport. And that’s not true. This violates international laws, as I cannot give free passage to people who wish to cross my country to travel north,” Giammattei said.

“This time you have nationals from Haiti, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, all crossing into Guatemala without proper papers. In Guatemala, we cannot issue visas to all of these people. Honduras is therefore clearly violating international agreements and diplomatic principles. And if it’s not a result, we’re going to have to take drastic measures,” he added.

A Venezuelan migrant told the DCNF along the Honduran-Guatemalan border that countries are taking advantage for money.

“All countries want to make us pay,” she said. “They mistreat us, just because we are immigrants. They take what we don’t have.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to pay because of this. We have to give everything we have. They rob us, they rape women and others get killed just because they didn’t pay to pass,” she said.

Jennie Taer of the Daily Caller News Foundation speaks with a Venezuelan migrant who crossed the Honduran border into Guatemala

Giammattei condemned the process, saying countries along the way allow traffickers to enrich themselves because of their policies.

“Behind everything 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 this passage through. And, therefore, we allow people to live as it happened. We allow human trafficking. And it’s a very lucrative business for these traffickers.

Guatemala passed a law in February to target traffickers with harsher penalties of up to 30 years in prison. Giammattei said that to prevent risks to U.S. national security, the Biden administration must take similar steps.

US law penalizes smugglers with decades in prison and sometimes up to life behind bars.

“If we let them pass, we would be violating our own provisions ourselves, which we are not going to allow,” Giammattei said. “We have absolute clarity on our role here. And, in fact, we are the only country in Central America that prevents this safe passage for these illegal immigrants. Other countries simply give them a pass or simply facilitate their passage without requiring any form of identity. And this represents a serious security concern for the United States.

“If we let these people cross into Mexico and the United States is at risk of having people without these IDs, then it is our obligation not to allow that to happen. And for that reason, we see that the problem is that the United States is not acting and should be acting and should be pressuring other countries to take action to prevent this,” he said.

The White House did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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