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Watchdog: 138 Salvadoran migrants killed after deported from U.S.

Watchdog: 138 Salvadoran migrants killed after deported from U.S.
Central American migrants are held for processing under the Paso del Norte Bridge in El Paso, Texas, on March 27, 2019. File Photo by Justin Hamel/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- More than 200 Salvadoran immigrants who were deported from the United States over the last six years were killed, tortured or sexually abused when they returned to their homeland, a human rights watchdog said in a report Wednesday.

The 117-page report by Human Rights Watch said at least 138 Salvadoran migrants were killed between 2013 and 2019, after the United States government denied them asylum and sent them back. More than 70 were "seriously abused."

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The analysis cites some migrants returning to the same situations from which they fled, and identifies a "clear link" between the violence and the motivating factor that led them to leave El Salvador. The reported abuse includes sexual violence, extortion and torture, and was generally inflicted by local gangs.

One woman cited in the report was a policewoman who left the country because she'd been threatened by Salvadorian gangs. After failing to enter the United States in 2015, she was shot dead in El Salvador after she returned.

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"No government, U.N. agency, or nongovernmental organization has systematically monitored what happens to deported persons once back in El Salvador. This report begins to fill that gap," the analysis states. "As asylum and immigration policies tighten in the United States and dire security problems continue in El Salvador, the U.S. is repeatedly violating its obligations to protect Salvadorans from returning to serious risk of harm."

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The report says Salvadoran refugees face great risk returning to their native country, and U.S. policy changes for the legal migration process have only increased that risk. Applicants for asylum from El Salvador increased from 5,600 in 2012 to more than 60,000 five years later.

New York City-based Human Rights Watch called on the Trump administration to repeal Migration Protection Protocols, known as the "remain in Mexico" policy; two asylum bans that narrow the categories under which a migrant can lawfully seek asylum and the Asylum Cooperation Agreements, which sends migrants to El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras to wait out their asylum requests.

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The report calls on the U.S. Congress to deny funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement until family separations and similar policies are ended.

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