On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the United States and Honduras have concluded the implementation accords for the Asylum Cooperative Agreement (ACA) signed in September 2019. Under the ACA, certain migrants requesting asylum or similar humanitarian protection at the U.S. border may be transferred to Honduras to seek protection in Honduras.
“Finalizing the Asylum Cooperative Agreement between the United States and Honduras is a critical step in the establishment of a truly regional approach to migration, and, more specifically, to the offer of protection to those migrants who are victims of persecution,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. “The success of these negotiations reflects the commitment of both governments to address our migration challenges together. I want to extend my gratitude to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez personally, for his leadership, and for the resulting expansion of avenues for protection available to persecuted migrants in the region.”
In order to confront the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis at the Southwest border due to historic levels of irregular migration and human smuggling, the U.S. and Honduras signed an ACA on September 25, 2019 to allow migrants to seek protection in Honduras. The ACA with Honduras went into effect in March 2020; the implementation accord for the ACA with Honduras was concluded on December 15, 2020, upon exchange of diplomatic notes. Today’s announcement means that all operational details relating to the implementation of the ACA have been worked out between the United States and Honduras.
Implementation of the ACA will involve and facilitate cooperation between the two governments to expand Honduras’ systems for offering humanitarian protections. Building Honduras’ protection capacity will involve the use of best practices developed by the United States and the international community to increase protection options for vulnerable populations.
DHS is using every available tool at its disposal to mitigate the crisis. During Fiscal Year 2019, more than 71% of migrants apprehended at the U.S. Southwest border were nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. All these countries have now reached agreements with the Trump Administration to confront irregular migration, and all three ACAs have now entered into force.