Guatemalan Court Blocks Signing Of 'Safe Third-Country' Agreement

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Guatemalan Court Blocks Signing Of 'Safe Third-Country' Agreement
Under such a deal, migrants journeying through Guatemala en route to the U.S. would be forced to apply for asylum in Guatemala instead.
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Guatemala's Constitutional Court issued an injunction Sunday night, preventing President Jimmy Morales from signing a so-called Safe Third-Country Agreement with the U.S.

The court's decision came the same day Morales' office said he was postponing his trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump. That visit had been scheduled for Monday.

In its statement, the Guatemalan government said the reason for the cancellation was that the Constitutional Court hadn't yet ruled on legal challenges to the potential agreement.

President Trump asserted in June that Guatemala was preparing to sign the Safe Third-Country Agreement with the U.S. Under that agreement, Central American migrants journeying through Guatemala en route to the U.S. would be forced to apply for asylum in Guatemala instead.

But on Sunday, Morales' office said that it's never "contemplated signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country."

It's not surprising that such an agreement is unpopular in Guatemala. A recent survey by Vanderbilt University's Latin American Public Opinion Project says one-in-four Guatemalans want to leave the country themselves. Most hope to make it to the U.S.

That's because Guatemala is beset with challenges similar to those of Honduras or El Salvador: gang violence, corruption, poverty and limited economic opportunity. That raises questions as to whether migrants from elsewhere will want to stay there, asylum offers or not.

It's unclear if Guatemala will reschedule Morales' visit with President Trump now that the Constitutional Court has issued its injunction. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.