UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United States and El Salvador signed an agreement Friday to curb illegal immigration by making the violence-plagued Central American country a potential refugee destination.
The agreement, announced at a joint press conference in Washington by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvador Secretary of State Alexandra Hill, is an additional measure taken by the Trump administration to limit immigration depending on neighboring countries to receive immigrants.
“The crux of this agreement is to recognize the evolution of the asylum system for El Salvador and to help it develop its capacity,” he said.
This agreement should allow “that persons crossing El Salvador be able to seek protection,” he said.
Hill stressed that the United States is among the best allies of the government of Salvadoran President Najib Abu Keila and pointed out that her country needs assistance on two fronts: “improving security and fighting gangs” and making “greater investments by the United States and other partners.”
The agreement drew criticism. Cesar Rios of the Salvadoran Institute of Immigrants said that “the signing of a coordination agreement on asylum means that our country is preparing to implement the strategy of isolation” followed by the United States.
McCalinan said the deal was part of the “good work” the United States had already done with Guatemala, which together with El Salvador and Honduras, is the “North Triangle” in Central America in terms of people fleeing poverty and violence toward the United States.
Trump, who has made combating immigration a priority, seeks to stem the flow of migrants and increase deportations.
In late July, the United States and Guatemala signed an asylum agreement that would make this most crowded country in Central America a “safe third country” where asylum seekers could take the first action.
The agreement drew resentment in Guatemala, where opponents and non-governmental organizations said the country, where 60% of the population lives below the poverty line, would be unable to receive immigrants seeking to reach the United States, according to the agreement.
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