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US Has Knowingly Sent Migrants and Refugees to Danger in El Salvador for Years: Report

"Absolutely horrific."

As seen through fencing, migrants—including a young child—stand while being detained by Department of Homeland Security police after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

As seen through fencing, migrants—including a young child—stand while being detained by Department of Homeland Security police after crossing to the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border barrier, on June 27, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A new report from Human Rights Watch detailing the dangers faced by people sent to El Salvador from the U.S.—including rape, murder, and torture—calls on American authorities to have more compassion for migrants and refugees.

The study, "Deported to Danger," was released Wednesday morning and delves into data from people deported to El Salvador despite the dangers by both the President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama administrations. 

"Absolutely horrific," tweeted journalist Aviva Stahl of the findings.

Human Rights Watch describes in the study's summary the horrors faced by some of the people sent to El Salvador from the U.S. border since 2013. 

"In researching this report, we identified or investigated 138 cases of Salvadorans killed since 2013 after deportation from the U.S.," the report reads.

As the Guardian reported:

El Salvador, the most densely populated country in Central America with just over 6 million citizens, has one of the world's highest rates of homicide and sexual violence. In addition, almost 11,000 people were registered missing during the last decade—more than the number of people who disappeared during the 1979-1992 civil war.

Years of danger in the Latin American country have led to an exodus of people seeking safety and shelter. Of those fleeing the violence, many head to the U.S.—and are deported once they are caught. 

"Salvadorans are facing murder, rape, and other violence after deportation in shockingly high numbers, while the U.S. government narrows Salvadorans' access to asylum and turns a blind eye to the deadly results of its callous policies," report co-author Alison Parker said in a statement.

American officials know about the dangers but appear not to care, said report co-author Elizabeth Kennedy.

"The United States has to have known this was happening because the cases were publicly reported and more importantly because Salvadorans make it clear in asylum applications that this is their reality," said Kennedy. "But this reality is ignored or not believed by U.S. authorities."

As the report explains, Trump's harsh anti-immigration policies have made things harder for people fleeing the violence in El Salvador:

Salvadoran asylum seekers are also increasingly at risk of deportation and return. The Trump administration has pursued a series of policy initiatives aimed at making it harder for people fleeing their countries to seek asylum in the United States by separating children from their parents, limiting the number of people processed daily at official border crossings, prolonging administrative detention, imposing fees on the right to seek asylum, extending from 180 days to one year the bar on work authorization after filing an asylum claim, barring asylum for those who transited another country before entering the United States, requiring asylum seekers to await their hearings in Mexico, where many face dangers, and attempting to narrow asylum.

"We can say that deporting people to these areas is very difficult and dangerous," Salvadoran Migration Institute executive director César Ríos told the Associated Press

The report calls for the U.S. to reverse recent restrictions on migration and refugee rights, as well as to expand the prerequisites for asylum. 

"Instead of closing the door to the thousands of Salvadorans fleeing their homeland, the United States should provide them with full and fair asylum procedures and dignified treatment," said Parker. "Before deporting Salvadorans, U.S. authorities should take into account the extraordinary risks of harm they may face upon return."

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