Washington, DC—This week, the Trump Administration finalized an agreement that will force people at the U.S. border asking for asylum to instead seek protection in El Salvador. As one of the world’s most dangerous countries, El Salvador is not capable of protecting those fleeing violence, discrimination, and persecution. The Trump Administration’s unlawful Asylum Cooperation Agreement is a cruel and coerced tactic designed to deny refugees access to the U.S. asylum system.
“Many of the children KIND works with are in fact fleeing El Salvador to save their lives,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “El Salvador is a refugee-producing country that lacks the political will and refugee protection system to comply with this agreement. This agreement is just another effort by the Trump Administration to gut the U.S. asylum system in its final days.”
El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Recent studies found that nearly 70 percent of women and girls in El Salvador report experiencing gender-based violence, and 40 percent report having experienced sexual violence. The country has some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the world, and there is well-documented violence against the LGBT population.
The U.S. Department of State has even documented in its most recent human rights report that children are subjected to the “worst forms of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and recruitment into illegal gangs.” The report goes on to detail widespread violence against women and abhorrent violence and brutality against LGBT individuals committed by government officials.
While El Salvador struggles to protect its own citizens, it also lacks the infrastructure to provide protection to others. The asylum system in El Salvador is nearly non-existent. Fewer than 70 people a year seek asylum in El Salvador.
This agreement, finalized by a lame-duck president, is only the latest example of a relentless string of cruel policies to roll back protections for refugees. It is imperative that President-elect Biden end these unlawful Asylum Cooperation Agreements and restore the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990