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Trump threatens tariffs on Guatemala over failed asylum deal

By Nicholas Sakelaris
President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala because the country didn't sign an agreement to accept asylum seekers. Photo by David Peinado/UPI 
President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala because the country didn't sign an agreement to accept asylum seekers. Photo by David Peinado/UPI 

July 23 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Guatemala as punishment for the country not signing a Safe Third Agreement, which would require Guatemala to process asylum claims.

Trump wants Guatelmala to deal with the flood of migrants coming north through Mexico to the U.S. border from Central America. He's also been critical of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in recent months saying they haven't done enough to prevent people from migrating out of the countries.

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"Guatemala, which has been forming Caravans and sending large numbers of people, some with criminal records, to the United States, has decided to break the deal they had with us on signing a necessary Safe Third Agreement," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "We were ready to go. Now we are looking at the 'BAN,' Tariffs, Remittance Fees or all of the above. Guatemala has not been good. Big U.S. taxpayer dollars going to them was cut off by me 9 months ago."

This comes one day after the U.S. and Guatemalan governments released a joint statement saying the two countries "continue to make important progress" on a comprehensive regional approach to addressing migration patterns."

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It's not clear what Trump meant by a "BAN."

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales had scheduled a trip to Washington D.C. but he canceled it at the last minute because the high court in that country blocked him from signing the agreement. Morales later said in a statement that he never intended to sign the the Third Party Agreement.

"The government of the republic reiterates that at no moment has it contemplated signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country," Morales said in a statement.

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