The United States says it is suspending former President Donald Trump’s controversial asylum deals with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The move, which is part of President Joe Biden’s bid to undo his predecessor’s hardline immigration policies, will halt the so-called “safe third country” agreements inked in 2019.
The deals required asylum seekers from the three Central American nations to first seek refuge in those countries before applying in the United States.
In a statement on Saturday, State Department Secretary Antony Blinken said the US had “suspended and initiated the process to terminate the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras as the first concrete steps on the path to greater partnership and collaboration in the region laid out by President Biden.”
The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General will now determine whether to rescind a rule implementing the agreements.
The new move comes after Biden last week announced a host of measures which seek to revamp the US immigration system, including a task force to reunite families separated at the United States-Mexico border and another to increase an annual cap on refugees.
Nearly 1,800 immigrant families were separated from October 2016 through February 2018. The separation tactic was meant as a deterrent for immigrants by prosecuting adults who crossed into the US without proper authorization.
While many of the families have since been reunited, it was later revealed that the number of separated children was bigger than initially reported.
In recent days, the number of asylum seekers wanting to enter the US from the three Central American countries has dramatically increased.
Trump made his hard-line stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency and promised to build a wall along the US-Mexican border to curb the flow of migrants from Mexico and Central America.