An agreement signed Friday between the United States and El Salvador threatens to prevent some asylum seekers to seek refuge in the U.S., allowing the country at the same time to send some of these people back to El Salvador.
The deal is aimed at limiting illegal immigration by improving security and economic opportunity in the Central American country, said Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco.
According to an administration official, under the deal, those asylum seekers who had not already claimed asylum when passing through El Salvador would be sent back.
CNN writes that the deal is part of President Donald Trump’s broader efforts to curb access to asylum in the United States while pushing for similar agreements with other nations as well.
“That is one potential use of the agreement that individuals crossing through El Salvador should be able to seek protections there and we want to be able to enforce the integrity of that process throughout the region,” said McAleenan when signing the agreement alongside Hill, stressing that the core of the deal is “recognizing El Salvador’s development of their own asylum system.”
It is unclear for now what the timing for the implementation is as both McAleenan and Hill refused to comment.
Hill noted, however, that the U.S. would need to support El Salvador in its fight against gangs and violence, as well as that “more investment” is needed for border security, biometric collection and resettlement.
“We also need to talk and look at permanent solutions for El Salvadorans living in the United States,” she said, pointing out that there are almost 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S. legally.
Last year, the Trump administration ended the protected status for El Salvador and a number of other countries, but their protections stayed in place after a judge issues a preliminary injunction which prevented the government from terminating TPS.
McAleenan said Friday that apprehensions of Salvadorans trying to illegally cross the border have dropped over 62 percent in the past 100 days since the new Salvadoran government took office.
A similar agreement was signed with Guatemala in July, which obliges migrants to seek asylum in Guatemala and the country to grant it to them. Those who still decide to continue to the U.S. could eventually be turned away.