Externalisation in Central America:
Deportations, migration agreements and humanitarian needs
The growing humanitarian needs in the North of Central America (NCA) are pushing increasing numbers of displaced people to the United States seeking protection. In response, instead of working with the region to ensure a long-term solution to the structural causes of violence, climate change and poverty, the United States has strengthened its border and migration policies, making the search for protection essentially impossible or extremely risky, deporting people back to the same conditions from which they fled, and perpetuating the displacement cycle.
Over the last two years under the Trump administration, these efforts have increased. One of the most recent and contentious examples of these policies, the Asylum Cooperative Agreements (ACAs, commonly known as Safe Third Country agreements) plan for mass returns of displaced people and could further increase the protection crisis in the region.
More than half of the 21 organisations working with displaced people in the NCA interviewed for this snapshot expressed confusion about the ACAs and their legal and practical implications. This report therefore aims to: consolidate the available public information on the agreements; provide relevant insight from similar arrangements; highlight available legal guidance; and present several recommendations from humanitarian organisations currently working in the reception of deported persons. By doing so, the snapshot intends to provide relevant analysis for strengthening advocacy on the rights of displaced people, as well as for preparing contingency plans for the potential humanitarian impacts of the implementation of these new policies in 2020. To this end, the snapshot provides a brief overview of recent US externalisation policies and their impacts on the region, and then focuses on the current migration agreements.
The snapshot is divided into the following chapters:
- An general update on the protection crisis in the NCA
- The externalisation of borders and asylum systems in the region
- Asylum Cooperative Agreements: applicable, legal, safe and efficient?
REDLAC Protection Group, led by the Norwegian Refugee Council and supported by AECID and ECHO