{"code":"23667","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"1945","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/201909\/el_salvador\/23667","link_edit":"","name":"El Salvador Signs Agreement to Accept Asylum Seekers the US Won\u2019t Protect","slug":"el-salvador-signs-agreement-to-accept-asylum-seekers-the-us-won-rsquo-t-protect","info":"El Salvador steps up as a player in the Trump administration\u2019s anti-immigrant agenda as the government of Nayib Bukele agrees to begin receiving migrants seeking asylum in the US. US Acting Homeland Security Secretary explained on September 20 that the agreement is similar to what the US has already negotiated with Guatemala. International human rights organizations swiftly condemned the agreement, noting El Salvador\u2019s inability to protect its own citizens, much less offer refuge to foreigners.\u00a0","mtag":"Migration","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/nrauda'\u003E Nelson Rauda Zablah\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"nelson-rauda-zablah":{"sort":"nrauda","slug":"nelson-rauda-zablah","path":"nelson_rauda_zablah","name":"Nelson Rauda Zablah","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"1945","pict":{"cms-image-000032247-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"32247","name":"cms-image-000032247.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000032247.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000032247.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000032247-jpg","text":"<p>Salvadoran Foreign Relationship Minister,\u00a0Alexandra Hill, signs an asylum agreement with acting Homeland Security director, Kevin Mcaleenan.\u00a0 \u00a0Credit: El Salvador's Foreign Relationship Ministry.\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003ESalvadoran Foreign Relationship Minister,\u00a0Alexandra Hill, signs an asylum agreement with acting Homeland Security director, Kevin Mcaleenan.\u00a0 \u00a0Credit: El Salvador's Foreign Relationship Ministry.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":32247,"date":{"live":"2019\/09\/21"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2019","data_post_dateLive_MM":"09","data_post_dateLive_DD":"21","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELeer en espa\u00f1ol\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe government of El Salvador, the country that sent the most asylum seekers to the US in 2018, signed an agreement on Friday to begin accepting asylum seekers sent back from the US. The move is part of a broader Trump administration strategy to close off any path towards asylum for Central Americans.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u201cThe core of this agreement is an asylum cooperative agreement\u201d Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill in Washington. \"The core of this is recognizing El Salvador's development of their own asylum system and committing to help them build that capacity\u2026 as we work together to target irregular migration flows through the region,\" McAleenan explained.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EThe agreement, similar to what the Trump administration signed with the outgoing Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales in July, would force migrants intending to ask for asylum from the US, and who have crossed into Salvadoran territory, to ask for protection in El Salvador. Despite not being named as such, the accord is effectively a \u201csafe third country\u201d agreement.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe Guatemalan deal, which would similarly require migrants seeking asylum to ask for it there first, is still being debated by Guatemala\u2019s Constitutional Court, whose members claim that it needs to be ratified before taking effect. Currently, the US is seeking a similar agreement with Honduras. Given the implications--of rapidly expanding their own asylum systems--northern triangle governments are evading the term \u201csafe third country\u201d, though in practice the Salvadoran agreement has the same implications.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EMcAleenan noted that the agreement signed with El Salvador would \"build on the good work we have accomplished already with El Salvador's neighbor, Guatemala, in building protection capacity to try to further our efforts to provide opportunities to seek protection... as close as possible to the origin of individuals that need it.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIt was US authorities, not Salvadoran, who provided the details of the agreement. The Salvadoran Ministry of Forgein Affairs issued a press release about an agreement with the Organization of American States about the implementation of a commission against impunity, mentioning in the last paragraph a \u201cbilateral agreement [with the United States] of cooperation to combat crime, strengthen border security, and reduce forced migration.\u201d The statement did not mention the asylum agreement. The move recalled past president Salvador S\u00e1nchez Cer\u00e9n, in 2018, \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201801\/el_salvador\/21345\/Tres-d%C3%ADas-despu%C3%A9s-el-canciller-Mart%C3%ADnez-admite-que-el-TPS-ha-finalizado.htm\"\u003Etrying to explain the announcement of the cancellation of TPS as one further extension\u003C\/a\u003E.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn this case there is no room for doubt. In the letter of agreement signed by Hill and McAleenan last August 28, one of the explicit goals was to \u201cbuild asylum capacity through our partnership\u201d and \u201cincrease protection options for vulnerable populations.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn a telephonic press call the day before the agreement was announced, Mauricio Claver-Carone, a senior advisor to Trump, explained the other possible reasons for these agreements. \u201cIf a person is fleeing political persecution in Cuba and crosses into Honduras, that person is no longer persecuted by the Cuban regime while in Honduras. That\u2019s also the case with a Nicaraguan or a Venezuelan crossing through El Salvador. It doesn\u2019t mean that the US is the only country in the world where a person who is being persecuted in their country will not continue to be persecuted,\u201d Claver-Carone said.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201908\/el_salvador\/23539\/Estados-Unidos-busca-que-los-centroamericanos-pidan-asilo-en-la-regi%C3%B3n-de-la-que-huyen.htm\"\u003Eforcing Central Americans to seek refuge in the countries they are fleeing\u003C\/a\u003E, the US is ignoring the warnings of its own State Department. The US rates its foreign travel advisories between 1 and 4, with 4 qualified as \u201cDo not travel\u201d and 1 \u201cExercise normal precautions.\u201d Currently, the US State Department recommends that citizens \u201creconsider travel\u201d to Honduras and El Salvador, with both countries earning a level-3 warning, and they should \u201cexercise increased caution\u201d in Guatemala, which has a level-2 warning.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELast year, the State Department noted in its country report on El Salvador, \u201callegations of unlawful killings of suspected gang members and others by security forces; forced disappearances by military personnel; torture by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of government respect for judicial independence; widespread government corruption,\u201d as well as violence against LGBTQ individuals.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHill\u2019s own statements seem to contradict the idea that El Salvador can offer protection to citizens of other countries. Hill claimed that El Salvador needs help from the US to \u201cattack the gangs that threaten people, kill people, or charge people money just to be able to cross the street.\u201d According to Hill, when people migrate because of insecurity or death threats, \u201cit\u2019s El Salvador\u2019s responsibility because we have not been able to provide sufficient security or opportunities so our own citizens remain [in the country] and prosper.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe foreign minister said that they signed a document \u201cto work in different areas, but the principle is to protect our people.\u201d She described the agreement as a \u201cwin-win\u201d and claimed that it included options to increase legal and safe migration, including more work visas. Asked if they had negotiated a permanent solution to the nearly 200,000 TPS recipients, Hill claimed that they were engaged in \u201congoing discussions trying to find alternatives for people who have been in the country for 18 years.\u201d \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201801\/el_salvador\/21333\/Trump-termina-el-TPS-y-EUA-hasta-reparte-manuales-para-facilitar-la-mudanza.htm\"\u003ETrump canceled TPS in 2018\u003C\/a\u003E, though TPS holders are still waiting \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201810\/el_salvador\/22522\/Juez-ve-racismo-en-la-decisi%C3%B3n-de-Trump-sobre-TPS-y-frena-su-cancelaci%C3%B3n.htm\"\u003Ea final court decision to determine their status\u003C\/a\u003E.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ENeither government released the document to the public, though the Associated Press confirmed that \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.washingtonpost.com\/world\/national-security\/the-latest-us-el-salvador-sign-asylum-deal\/2019\/09\/20\/55b18f4a-dbdf-11e9-a1a5-162b8a9c9ca2_story.html\"\u003Ethe US would send asylum seekers back to El Salvador\u003C\/a\u003E once both countries settle on the details and decide on an implementation plan.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe announcement comes just eight days after the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.elfaro.net\/es\/201909\/el_salvador\/23649\/El-Salvador-lanza-su-patrulla-fronteriza-y-se-une-a-ola-de-complacencia-regional-a-Trump.htm\"\u003Elaunching of a Salvadoran Border Patrol\u003C\/a\u003E, which was the latest nod from Bukele to the Trump administration. Even before taking office, the Salvadoran President has been very clear in \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201903\/el_salvador\/23117\/Bukele-env%C3%ADa-una-carta-de-amor-al-gobierno-de-Trump.htm\"\u003Ehis willingness to acquiesce to Trump\u2019s agenda\u003C\/a\u003E, even going so far as to affirm that the country is \u201caligned with the US\u201d and comparing the country to a \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/201905\/el_salvador\/23290\/Bukele-en-Washington-%E2%80%9CEstamos-alineados-con-Estados-Unidos%E2%80%9D.htm\"\u003Edrug addicted son who is in rehab and needs the help of his father\u003C\/a\u003E. Hill, in her first press conference after taking office, said, in another nod to the US, \u201cyou shouldn\u2019t bite the hand that feeds you.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThis accord also comes after months of Trump threats to Central American countries to suspend aid if they didn't \"do better\" to stop immigration. The administration actually suspended or reallocated over $500 million in Central American aid.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EThe Trump administration is trying to turn Central America itself into a wall, and El Salvador is signing on\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EHuman Rights organizations quickly criticized the agreement, pointing out that a country expelling refugees--in 2018 El Salvador produced 46,800 asylum seekers, the sixth most of any country in the world--is not adept at protecting people within its own territory. And, while the numbers of Salvadorans detained in the US Southern border have gone down, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.elfaro.net\/es\/201909\/el_salvador\/23649\/El-Salvador-lanza-su-patrulla-fronteriza-y-se-une-a-ola-de-complacencia-regional-a-Trump.htm\" target=\"_blank\"\u003Ein 2019 the country has reported a surge of 60 % in its deportees compared to 2018. The explanation is in Mexico, which is currently returning more people to El Salvador than the US itself\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ECharanya Krishnaswami, Advocacy Director for Amnesty International, said, \u201cThis agreement makes a mockery of the right to asylum. People should not be forced to seek safety in countries where they will not be safe.\u201d \u201cEl Salvador has one of the highest rates of violence in the world, including gender-based violence so rampant that Amnesty International declared it one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman. It is not safe for its own citizens, much less for asylum-seekers,\u201d Krishnaswami added.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBeyond questions of security, another concern is simply El Salvador\u2019s capacity to process asylum claims. In 2002, El Salvador established a commision (CODER), under the foreign ministry, that would field asylum claims.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ESources within the ministry revealed to El Faro that the Office of Internal Legal Affairs is the agency that oversees CODER, while only a single officer works directly with asylum claims. One officer in the whole country. In 2016, former foreign minister Hugo Mart\u00ednez claimed that \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/rree.gob.sv\/gobierno-salvador-entrega-nacionalidades-naturalizacion-dia-mundial-los-refugiados\/\"\u003EEl Salvador had approved 49 asylum claims \u201cin recent years,\u201d\u003C\/a\u003E without specifying the time period. This lack of capacity is another resemblance to Guatemala: VICE reported that the country \"\u003Ca title=\"Why Guatemala's President Inked an Impossible Asylum Deal with Trump\" href=\"https:\/\/www.vice.com\/en_us\/article\/zmpjyx\/why-guatemalas-president-inked-an-impossible-asylum-deal-with-trump\" target=\"_blank\"\u003Ehas just four asylum officers and hasn\u2019t resolved a case in nearly two years\u003C\/a\u003E\".\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGeoff Thale, Vice President for Program of WOLA, said that \u201cthe Trump administration is trying to turn Central America itself into a wall. It\u2019s immoral and inhumane to trap those seeking asylum in a region not equipped to adequately process their claims, to keep them safe, and to guarantee decent living conditions.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEric Schwartz, president of Refugees International, asked, \u201cWhere will they declare a haven for asylum seekers next? Syria? North Korea? This is cynical and absurd.\u201d Schwartz added, \u201cThis agreement will do nothing to stop families seeking a better life in a safe place, and will instead further endanger vulnerable women, men, and children.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E"}