In a radio interview in Guatemala City, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales claimed that the United States "doesn't have the luxury" of deporting millions of illegal aliens. "Economically, the United States doesn't have the luxury of throwing out 12 million inhabitants or people who are on its territory without papers given that they produce, consume and contribute to GDP growth in that country," Morales told Guatemalan radio station Emisoras Unidas. His remarks were apparently in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to deport illegal aliens, starting with criminals.
 
The Guatemalan leader admitted that his government has no plans in place to receive persons deported from the United States. He said that Trump would have to obtain approval from Congress to go ahead with his plans. "The United States is a very institutional country where the executive branch isn't the only one making decisions," Morales said. He added, "The Congress and Senate have a lot of power."
 
Guatemala has added staff to its consulates in the United States, as have El Salvador and Honduras. All three have contributed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the United States, many of whom remain illegal residents. All three are in the grip of criminal narcoterrorist organizations, leading some observers to conclude that they are failed states. Honduras has the highest murder rate of any country in the world, while Guatemala and Honduras are not far behind. 
 
Officials in the U.S. calculate that there are approximately 1.5 million Guatemalans living in the country. Only a third have legal residence permits. Guatemalans living in the U.S. send about $7 billion to Guatemala last year in remittances, far outstripping traditional exports such as coffee, cardamon, sugar, and garments as sources of foreign exchange.
 
Despite many decades of U.S. assistance to the Central American republics, income disparities, civil liberties, crime, and out-migration, remain significant problems. Guatemala endured thirty years of fratricidal war between the government, Marxist insurgents, and its own people, while El Salvador also had a civil war. Both claimed thousands of lives.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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