Guatemala asks US for migrant protections due to volcano fallout

Members of the Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) Unit apprehend illegal immigrants from Guatemala near Falfurrias, Texas, U.S. (Reuters pic)

GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales on Monday said he had instructed his Foreign Ministry to petition the United States for temporary protected status for the country’s migrants, he said in a Twitter post.

The president’s action is due to the aftermath of a series of recent volcanic eruptions, said Marta Larra, a spokesperson for Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry.

“The request is a response to the catastrophe caused by the Fuego volcano,” she said.

Fuego, which means fire in Spanish, lies about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the capital, Guatemala City, near the picturesque colonial town of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The volcanic eruptions began on June 3, killing at least 112 people, and leaving many more displaced or missing.

The volcano’s eruptions showered ash over nearby towns and spewed pyroclastic flows throughout the area. The 3,763-meter (12,346-feet) peak is one of several active volcanoes among the 34 located in Guatemala.