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Gay refugee is suing Trump administration for sending him to Guatemala where he’ll be ‘homophobically harassed’

Patrick Kelleher February 11, 2020
gay refugee

David McNew/Getty

A gay refugee is suing the Trump administration for sending him to Guatemala after he tried to claim asylum in the United States.

The United States has a “safe third country” agreement with Guatemala, meaning they can send refugees to the Central American country instead.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in conjunction with other groups, who argue that countries like Guatemala are “plagued by violence, instability and ill-equipped asylum systems”.

Gay refugee believes he will face homophobic discrimination in Guatemala.

The gay man suing the Trump administration is named as U.T in the lawsuit. The man, originally from El Salvador, fled to the United States after he was threatened by a gang member. He is afraid that he will be murdered or attacked in his home country because of his sexual orientation.

U.T travelled through Guatemala to get to the United States and said he was subjected to homophobic harassment in the country. When he got to the US border, he was told that he was being removed to Guatemala under the “safe third country” agreement.

It’s all a big farce. Why? I was feeling really deceived — all of my sacrifice had been in vain. Now I’m being thrown to Guatemala [where I won’t be protected]. I was feeling broken about the situation.

He told Buzzfeed that he tried to tell guards at the border that he had been harassed in Guatemala and didn’t want to go back.

“It’s all a big farce. Why? I was feeling really deceived — all of my sacrifice had been in vain. Now I’m being thrown to Guatemala [where I won’t be protected]. I was feeling broken about the situation.”

Joining U.T in the lawsuit is a Honduran mother who fled to the United States when her husband and sister-in-law were murdered by a gang. She was also sent away under the “safe third country” agreement.

Refugees face ‘further harm and displacement’ under ‘safe third country’ agreement, lawsuit claims.

“The plaintiffs’ cases illustrate how callous the Trump administration’s attacks on the asylum system have become, and how far we have drifted from our own values as a country,” said Ruben Loyo, litigation attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

“Because of this illegal rule and the administration’s perverted application of the ‘safe third country’ label, the U.S. is slamming the door on individuals fleeing life-threatening conditions and sending them back to a country where they have no guarantee of safety and security,” he added.

“Instead, the plaintiffs and other asylum seekers often have no choice but to return to their home country where they are exposed to further harm and displacement.”

“The administration’s policy is as senseless as it is unlawful and puts asylum seekers directly in harm’s way,” said Blaine Bookey, co-legal director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.

“By sending vulnerable people to Guatemala, the administration makes a mockery of the United States’ obligations to protect the persecuted, gutting the U.S. asylum system beyond recognition.”

 

More: Gay, Guatemala, LGBT, refugee

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