İrem UZUN -TDO- On Friday, The Trump administration announced it had brokered an immigration accord with El Salvador, one of the world’s most violent countries. Although the agreement aims to help El Salvador make a haven for migrants seeking asylum, only few details were provided about how it will unfold.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvador’s foreign minister, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, signed the “cooperative asylum agreement” in a live-streamed press conference. Mr. McAleenan said in a press conference Friday “one potential use” is to limit asylum seekers passing through El Salvador from claiming asylum in the United States. He offered no timeline.
The Trump administration has previously tried to secure a series of agreements with Mexico and other Central American countries, such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, as a strategy to block asylum-seekers from reaching the southern US border. Advocates and experts have long pointed out that such agreements would leave asylum-seekers in precarious conditions in countries that are not able to offer adequate protections.
El Salvador is plagued by gangs and is among the world's deadliest countries, with one of the highest homicide rates on the globe. According to a 2018 State Department report, human rights issues included allegations 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".
Human Rights First notes that not only will El Salvador be unable to protect refugees from such violence, but it does not have an effective asylum system. From 2017-2018, the government reportedly received a total of eight asylum applications and denied half of them.