Guatemala to UN: Our Emigrants Aren't Refugees

By Kausha Luna on September 23, 2016

During the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants this week, Guatemala clarified that Guatemalans leave the country for economic reasons and family reunification, not because of violence or persecution. As such, they should not be treated as refugees.

Guatemala's Deputy Foreign Minister Ana Maria Dieguez explained that her compatriots who emigrate do not do so because they are persecuted, their life is in danger, or government policy: "Guatemalan migrants look for a better life in the United States, they are not persecuted by State policies. They are not persecuted because their life is in danger, they want a better life."

In addition, she pointed out that migrants' places of origin are not areas of violence:

If you analyze the places from where Guatemalan migrants leave, the northwester departments of Guatemala, there are no gangs; therefore you cannot apply to them that they are fleeing violence in their hometowns and therefore have to emigrate. They want to reunite with their families and want to have opportunities for their children.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Raul Morales also stated that eight in 10 migrants emigrate for economic reasons, but did not rule out that some emigrate for family reunification. Furthermore, Minister Morales clarified that if they were refugees, the United States could send Guatemalans to a third country, which is not what migrants want, because the aim is to get to the United States in order to work and help their family.

These statements completely undermine the narrative touted by the current administration, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, the media, and other open borders advocates. Moreover, the comments made by the Guatemalan officials explicitly discredit the basis of President Obama's Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program , established in 2014, and its consequent expansions.