Over 200 Salvadoran immigrants and asylum seekers have been killed, tortured, or raped after the U.S. deported them back to the Central American country.
The report underscores the dangers Salvadorans meet when sent back to a country that’s dealing with a humanitarian crisis and increasing violence. It also highlights how Trump’s efforts to restrain legal immigration—especially asylum—has notably impacted Salvadorans.
“This has been a brick-by-brick erection of a legal wall by the Trump administration in an attempt to effectively end asylum in the U.S.,” the report's co-author, Alison Leal Parker, told NBC News. “Salvadorans are by no means the only nationality, but they are one of the populations that will suffer greatly from this.”
The U.S. has continually rejected asylum applications from El Salvador even though applicants have grown from around 5,600 in 2012 to 60,000 in 2017. This increase in requests implies that the violence and human rights abuses in El Salvador, “including one of the highest murder rates in the world and very high rates of sexual violence and disappearances,” have heightened.
Two U.S. attorney general decisions narrowed immigrants’ abilities to seek asylum for fleeing gang and gender-based violence or fleeing because a relative was assaulted or killed—major reasons why some Salvadorans leave their country. The report also stressed how perilous it is for longtime U.S. residents to return to El Salvador, many of whom are conspicuous and become easy targets for gangs.
Hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans could be deported in the future if Trump successfully ends immigration programs such as Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Around 47 percent of the approximate 1.2 million Salvadorans in the U.S. who are not citizens are in the country legally as lawful permanent residents or through TPS and DACA. The remaining population is undocumented.
From 2014 to 2018, the U.S. concluded that only 18.2 percent of Salvadorans claiming asylum were entitled to it. During those years, the U.S. deported 111,000 people to El Salvador. Human Rights Watch has determined that many of those who were sent back were eventually killed.