Asylum Seekers Killed, Raped, Tortured After Return to El Salvador

Asylum Seekers Killed, Raped, Tortured After Return to El Salvador

Created: 07 February, 2020
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Sandra G. Leon

A new report documents that over 200 people that were refused asylum in the United States were murdered, raped, or tortured after they returned to their native El Salvador.

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization headquartered in New York City, released the report that documents the conditions asylum seekers face after they attempted to flee the violence of their country, only to be forced to return when their petitions for asylum were denied.

The report acknowledged that most of the crimes against returning migrants go unreported, but the cases documented in the report were compiled by tracking news reports, police statistics, and interviews with relatives of victims.

“In many of these more than 200 cases, we found a clear link between the killing or harm to the deportee upon return and the reasons they had fled El Salvador in the first place,” the report reads. “Throughout, US authorities are turning a blind eye to the abuse Salvadorans face upon return.”

The report, titled “Deported to Danger: United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse”, found that 138 people deported between 2013 and 2019 were murdered by gang members, police, soldiers, death squads, or ex-partners. The research found that most of the victims were killed within two years after being deported, and most by the same perpetrators that the victims had fled in the first place.

The US deported about 213,000 Salvadorans between 2014 and 2018, including 102,000 from Mexico and 111,000 from the US. Salvadorans make up the largest number of any nationality among pending asylum applications in the US, at 101,000 in 2018.

As President Trump has initiated a tougher stance on immigration, especially migrants, a higher number of asylum applications have been denied. The Trump Administration has also made it more difficult to apply for and be granted asylum at all.

Trump has imposed fees asylum applications, extending the ban on work authorization after filing an asylum claim from 180 days to one year, barring asylum for people that first transited another country before entering the US, and requiring asylum seekers to “remain in Mexico” while waiting for their asylum hearings.

The report concluded that the US must do more to help protect asylum seekers that have legitimate claims of fear in their native country.

“The US should address due process failures in asylum adjudications and adopt a new legal and policy framework for protection that embraces the current global realities prompting people to flee their homes by providing “complementary protection” to anyone who faces real risk of serious harm,” the report reads.

Among the recommendations in the report are that the US should: (1) repeal the two Asylum Bans; reverse decisions that restrict gender-based, gang-related, and family-based grounds for asylum; ensure that US funding for Mexican migration enforcement activities does not erode the right to seek and receive asylum in Mexico; and, pass legislation should protect individuals with Temporary Protected Status and DACA recipients.