Trump administration to sign asylum agreement with El Salvador
Reaction and analysis from former acting ICE director and Fox News contributor Tom Homan.
The Trump administration will announce Friday that the U.S. intends to sign an "asylum cooperative agreement" with El Salvador, a senior Department of Homeland Security official confirmed to Fox News — the latest in a rapid-fire series of moves by the administration to tackle the migrant crisis at the southern border.
The Associated Press first reported on the agreement, to be signed by Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan. The agreement would require migrants who have passed through El Salvador to have first sought and been denied asylum in the country, before continuing north to the U.S.
The pact would be similar to that signed in July with Guatemala, yet to be fully implemented, that would require migrants who cross into the country to apply for protection there instead of at the border. The administration has also forged an agreement with Mexico that has seen the country up its number of troops at the border and the expansion of the Migrant Protection Protocols, by which migrants are sent to Mexico to await their immigration hearings.
Officials have touted the diplomacy as a primary factor in the sharp drop in migrant apprehensions at the border over the summer: 64,006 migrants were apprehended in August, a drop of 56 percent since May.
“That international effort is making an impact. Mexican operational interdiction is certainly [the] highlight of that effort, but the shared responsibility we’re seeing in the region, governments stepping up and saying we also own this,” McAleenan told Fox News last week.
However, many of the moves have been controversial with Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights groups, and a pact with El Salvador is likely to be met with further outrage. El Salvador is one of Central America’s most violent countries and any agreement that would keep migrants there is almost certainly likely to be decried by critics as one that puts migrants in danger. Many asylum-seekers are fleeing violence in that country.
The Trump administration has also made agreements with Central American countries, including El Salvador, on issues such as human smuggling and border security. A senior administration official told reporters last week that Honduras has so far more than doubled its border force after the U.S. requested they triple it.
The administration also scored a significant win at the Supreme Court last week, when the court allowed the administration’s rule banning migrants who had crossed through other countries from claiming asylum in the U.S. That move would make most migrants from countries south of the border other than Mexico ineligible for asylum in the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.