A meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales that was set to take place Monday has been abruptly canceled.
Morales had been planning to travel to Washington to discuss the designation of Guatemala as a “safe third country” for asylum seekers. But many in Guatemala oppose this move, which would send large numbers of migrants to their country, and Guatemala said Sunday that any such meeting could not be held until the Constitutional Court ruled on the matter.
A statement explaining the cancellation was issued by Morales’ office on Sunday. “Due to speculation and legal proceedings admitted for processing to the Constitutional Court, a decision was made to reschedule the bilateral meeting until we know what was resolved by said court,” it read. “The government of the Republic reiterates that at no moment has it contemplated signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country.”
The legal problems have to do with what exactly Morales, as president, can agree to in a discussion with President Trump.
The big issue President Trump was and is looking to address with Morales is the immigration crisis.
Making Guatemala a “safe third country” means that citizens of surrounding countries would apply for asylum there first before heading to the United States. That would significantly reduce the burden on the U.S. and its resources from “economic refugees.”
Although officials from the United States have said that such a move is up for consideration, their counterparts in Guatemala have denied it.
Opponents cite a lack of resources in Guatemala as a reason why the Central American country should not enter into such an agreement. And many of those seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border are themselves seeking to escape poverty and crime in Guatemala.
However, we don’t know what the U.S. was prepared to offer in return, and the reality is that we likely will not get a clear picture of what is really happening if and when Trump and Morales meet.
Following the cancellation, a senior member of the Trump administration said that the meeting between the two leaders is “being rescheduled,” and that in the meantime the United States “will continue to work with the Government of Guatemala on concrete and immediate steps that can be taken to address the ongoing migration crisis.”
At this point, no new date has been agreed upon by those involved.
And it seems unlikely to be rescheduled any time soon — late Sunday, the Constitutional Court blocked Morales himself from entering into an agreement with Trump to designation Guatemala as a “safe third country.”