REPORT: Hundreds Killed or Attacked in El Salvador After Being Deported From U.S.

By Shani Saxon Feb 05, 2020

Immigrants from El Salvador have been hit especially hard by the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies. Advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 117-page report on February 5 that details the extreme risks faced by Salvadorans sent back to their home country.

The report, “Deported to Danger: United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse,” notes that at least 138 Salvadorans have been murdered after being deported from the United States since 2013, and more than 70 have been “beaten, sexually assaulted, extorted or tortured,” according to HRW’s summary of the report. Perpetrators of the abuse, according to the summary, “include gangs, former intimate partners and Salvadoran police or security personnel."

From the report:

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. In other cases, we lacked sufficient evidence to establish such a link. Even the latter cases, however, show the risks to which Salvadorans can be exposed upon return and the importance of U.S. authorities giving them a meaningful opportunity to explain why they need protection before they are deported


Deportees also include former long-term U.S. residents, who with their families are singled out as easy and lucrative targets for extortion or abuse. Former long-term residents of the U.S. who are deported may also readily run afoul of the many unspoken rules Salvadorans must follow in their daily lives in order to avoid being harmed.  

NBC News spoke to Alison Leal Parker, HRW’s managing director of the U.S. Program and the report’s co-author, about the Trump administration’s long-term immigration strategy. "This has been a brick-by-brick erection of a legal wall by the Trump administration in an attempt to effectively end asylum in the U.S.," she said. "Salvadorans are by no means the only nationality, but they are one of the populations that will suffer greatly from this."

The U.S. continues to deny asylum to Salvadorans, despite the fact that asylum applications from El Salvador “increased from about 5,600 to over 60,000 from 2012 to 2017, a growth of nearly 1,000 percent,” NBC reports. 

“U.S. authorities have knowingly put Salvadorans in harm’s way by sending them to face murder and attacks on their safety,” Parker writes in the report’s summary. “Salvadorans are facing murder, rape and other violence after deportation in shockingly high numbers, while the US government narrows Salvadorans’ access to asylum and turns a blind eye to the deadly results of its callous policies.”

Click here to read the full report.