Guatemala says US-funded transit centers to receive applications from Central American migrants

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Migrant transit centers fiananced by the United States will be set up in Guatemala to receive applications from Central American citizens seeking to apply for work visas, family reunifications or refugee status, an official said Friday.

Both governments have said they will launch a web page Monday on which people will be able to request appointments to apply for entrance to the U.S.

The centers are part of a larger migratory strategy aimed at reducing the heavy flow of migrants from Latin American and the Caribbean to the United States.

Applicants with scheduled appointments will be received at offices to be opened in eight places across Guatemala, the official said, who agreed to discuss the plan only if not quoted by name.

The centers will be directed by United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration during a six-month trial period, the official added.

The plan was revealed after a phone conversation between U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei in which they agreed to work together to expand legal pathways for migration. The Biden administration hopes the centers will lead to safer migration.

This comes after the U.S. ended Title 42, an immigration restriction implemented during the pandemic that immediately expelled migrants arriving at the U.S. borders. The U.S. has also maintained Title 8, which toughens sanctions for those who attempt to cross the border without permission.

The Associated Press requested an interview with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro to discuss the issue. The Foreign Ministry said he would not meet with journalists until Monday.