December 3, 2019 / 7:42 PM / 6 days ago

U.S. sends first Salvadoran back to Guatemala under asylum deal

Migrants from Honduras (L) and El Salvador are pictured after being sent back to Guatemala from the United States, under a new migration agreement that designates the Central American nation a so-called safe third country for asylum seekers, at Casa del Migrante shelter in Guatemala City, Guatemala December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala received the first Salvadoran citizen from the United States under a new migration agreement that designates the Central American nation a so-called safe third country for asylum seekers, Guatemalan authorities said on Tuesday.

The program kicked off in late November, when a Honduran man flew from El Paso, Texas, to Guatemala City on a nearly empty Boeing 737. This marks the second flight.

The plane, which arrived Tuesday morning from Mesa, Arizona, also had 84 Guatemalans and two Hondurans aboard, said Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman for Guatemala’s migration institute.

She did not specify whether the migrants from Honduras and El Salvador would seek asylum in Guatemala or return to their countries.

The program marks a policy achievement for U.S. President Donald Trump, who has demanded help from Mexico and Central America in curbing the flow of migrants seeking to request asylum in the United States.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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