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At Least 138 Salvadorans Were Killed After Being Deported From the U.S.

I’ve often wondered what happens to undocumented immigrants when they are deported from the U.S. back to their home countries. Do they start a new life? Do they flourish, get married, have children, launch new careers? Unfortunately, those life goals never come to fruition because they’re going back to a country engulfed with violence. Now a new report shows that many are being killed. 

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization, did keep track of undocumented immigrants that were deported back and discovered that at least 138 of them were killed in El Salvador

Their report shows even more staggering data, including that in some cases, these killings occurred within days of their arrival into El Salvador. Aside from the murders, at least 70 people were sexually assaulted after returning back home. The actual number of people killed and of sexual assaults is much higher, the group notes, however, all of the figures “aren’t recorded due to the stigma of having been deported from the U.S.” and because of “under-reporting.” The deaths and assaults occurred between 2014 and 2018 when the government sent back 111,000 Salvadorans to their native country. The group also states that many of the killings were committed by gang members. 

In other words, people who are fleeing their country because of gang violence are then targeted for leaving once they are eventually deported back. Part of releasing these figures is to directly show the dangers that inflict this community when they return. They are literally leaving to survive. As Leal Parker, the group’s U.S. managing director, tells PBS, “Our concern is that many of these people are facing a death sentence.” She added, “We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s effort to literally eviscerate the right to seek asylum in the United States.”

These figures should be a reminder to all of us that when we see images of people from Central America escaping their country at any cost, which means crossing rivers, forcing entry into Mexico, they’re not doing it because they’re trying to go on vacation or see what the U.S. has to offer. They are leaving because their life depends on it. Of the thousands of people seeking asylum in the U.S., PBS reports that only 18 percent are granted asylum. 

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. But this reality is ignored or not believed by U.S. authorities,” Elizabeth Kennedy, co-author of the report, said, according to The Guardian

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