The Trump administration will sign a “cooperative asylum agreement” with El Salvador that would make the Central American country a haven for asylum seekers. The U.S. has similar agreements with Mexico and Guatemala.
The goal of the agreement is to force asylum seekers to find refuge outside of the United States.
Two other officials described the agreement as a first step in the governments’ working together on asylum. Details of the broad agreement will be hammered out in the weeks and months ahead, they said. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The agreement could lead to migrants from third countries obtaining refuge in El Salvador even though many Salvadorans are fleeing their nation and seeking asylum in the United States. A Salvadoran delegation has been in the U.S. this week discussing the matter.
It’s the latest effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to force asylum-seekers in Central America to seek refuge outside the United States. Immigration officials also are forcing more than 42,000 people to remain in Mexico as their cases play out and have changed policy to deny asylum to anyone who transited through a third country en route to the southern border of the U.S.
“Today’s announcement of a ‘cooperative asylum agreement’ between the United States and El Salvador is yet another example of the U.S. government’s callous disregard for the safety and lives of people fleeing violence in Central America,” said Alison Parker, managing director for the U.S. program of Human Rights Watch. “El Salvador does not have the capacity to keep its own nationals safe, much less migrants from any other country.” Parker added that only 18 people are seeking asylum inside El Salvador.