July 13, 2019 / 2:50 AM / 2 months ago

Trump to discuss immigration with Guatemalan president at White House on Monday

U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he deplanes from Air Force One at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 12, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria ??

WASHINGTON/GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales at the White House on Monday for talks on immigration and security, the White House said on Friday.

Government sources from both countries have said Morales may sign an agreement with Trump on Monday declaring the Central American country a safe destination for asylum seekers, while five former Guatemalan officials have gone to court to block such a deal.

Trump said last month the United States and Guatemala were close to reaching a “safe third country agreement” as part of his efforts to curb U.S.-bound migration from Central America.

Under such an agreement, Guatemala would be obliged to process asylum claims from migrants who entered its territory en route to the United States. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the U.S.-Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala.

Guatemalan rights ombudsman PDH, a government body, on Friday launched legal proceedings aimed at stopping Morales, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sandra Jovel, Minister of Interior Enrique Degenhart and others from moving ahead with the safe third country deal.

“It is irresponsible to take a decision that has such wide-reaching consequences,” said Jordan Rodas, who presented the proceeding. “Guatemala does not have the capacity to become a safe third country given its weak institutions.”

The White House said in a statement that Trump and Morales “will discuss ways to create a more robust relationship focused on addressing migration and security priorities.”

“The two leaders will also discuss how Guatemala can build a stronger relationship with its Central American partners to expand economic growth, create jobs, and promote opportunities for their citizens,” it added.

Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington, Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City and Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Susan Thomas and Leslie Adler

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