U.S. Agents Returned Migrants to Honduras in Unauthorized Operation, Senate Report Says

U.S. border agents working in Guatemala detained Honduran migrants intending to make their way to the U.S. border and returned them to Honduras in an unauthorized operation last January, a review by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee found.
The agents were stationed in Guatemala, along with other countries across Latin America, to help train local police in counter narcotics and other efforts. They are strictly prohibited by the State Department, which provides their funding and oversees their efforts, from conducting direct enforcement operations in countries abroad.
Still, last January, alarm bells went off in Washington when a group of Honduran migrants from the northern city of San Pedro Sula began crossing the Honduras-Guatemala border, with hopes of reaching the U.S. and asking for asylum. U.S. Customs and Border Protection rented three buses and set off to halt the caravan’s progress, according to the report.
Together with Guatemalan border authorities, U.S. agents halted the migrants and loaded them onto buses, which then returned them to the border with Honduras, the review states.
The episode is the first in which U.S. agents were known to be involved in the physical deportation of migrants from a foreign country. The Senate report, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and released later Tuesday, found that Customs and Border Protection officials violated limits imposed on them by the U.S. that prohibit enforcement operations abroad, and didn’t take precautions to ensure that the operation was safe or legal.

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