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Salvadorans caught in family separation

A migration statistic you might not expect

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News coverage of family/child separation at the US border has dominated headlines in the US and El Salvador for the past two weeks.   In such coverage, the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America -- Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are usually lumped together as the home countries of the great majority of these migrants.    What you will not learn from that coverage is that migration from El Salvador has dropped significantly, while migration from both Honduras and Guatemala has increased significantly in the past year.   Migration as measured by detentions by US authorities at the border has decreased at a rate of almost 50% for Salvadorans from last year while border crossing by Guatemalans and Hondurans has increased 80% and 46% respectively:


These figures come form the US Customs and Border Patrol.    The statistics are compiled on the basis of a US government fiscal year (FY) which runs from October 1 to September 30.   Thus FY2017 covers the months October 1, 20…

Nayib Bukele makes alliance to assure place on 2019 presidential ballot

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El Salvador's most popular politician, Nayib Bukele, has found his path to be on the 2019 presidential ballot in El Salvador.   Bukele has announced that his (not yet officially recognized) political party Nuevas Ideas has made an alliance with the party Cambio Democrático (CD) -- Democratic Change.  That alliance will allow him to be on the presidential ballot endorsed by CD even if his opponents had blocked Nuevas Ideas from contending in the election.

Nuevas Ideas had a real obstacle in its path to getting Bukele on the ballot.   The electoral process established by the Law of Political Parties and administered by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal ("TSE") required that political parties establish a process for internal elections to choose a presidential nominee by April 6, 2018.   Nuevas Ideas could not meet this date because it has not yet been officially recognized as a political party.   Although Nuevas Ideas did establish a process, it did so before having the possi…

Slow wheels of Salvadoran justice

It has been almost two years since El Salvador's Supreme Judicial Court overturned the 1993 amnesty law which had prevented prosecution of crimes committed during the country's civil war.  This week the Constitutional Chamber of the court has summoned branches of the Salvadoran government to report on how they have been pursuing justice for crimes against humanity committed during El Salvador's civil conflict.  This follows a similar hearing in July 2017, where the branches displayed little progress in working on transitional justice.

The attorney general's office (FGR) is responsible for investigating and putting cases together for crimes against humanity.   The FGR indicated to the court that that office is currently investigating 160 such cases from the conflict years.

Among those cases already open are the cases of the forced disappearance of the Serrano Cruz sisters and the massacres at El Mozote, Tecoluca, and El Calabozo.  The FGR indicated that it is in the pro…

World Refugee Day -- the internal refugees of El Salvador

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On June 20, World Refugee Day, El Salvador must deal with a reality of hundreds of thousands of internal refugees displaced by violence.   The following article was originally published by the human rights organization Cristosal.
The IDMC Releases 2018 Global Report on Internal Displacement
Despite its relatively tiny size, El Salvador ranked tenth globally with 296,000 new displacements caused by conflict in 2017.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), a global leader in analyzing displacement data, has released the 2018 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID). El Salvador ranked tenth worldwide for new displacements caused by conflict, with 296,000. This number represents 65% of all new displacements caused by conflict in the Americas. This is an increase from the IDMC's 2016 estimate of new displacements caused by conflict in El Salvador, which was 222,000. "We saw an increase in our own data as well," says Rina Montti, Coordinator of Cristosal's M…

Good news for El Salvador -- US unemployment low

When the US economy is creating jobs, El Salvador benefits.    This was easily seen in the May monthly report of family remittances received in El Salvador.   Remittances are the dollars earned abroad by workers who send them back to families in their homeland.

Remittances for the first 5 months of the year grew 8.95% from the same period in 2017.    Salvadoran families have received some $2.23 billion in funds from abroad this year.

El Salvador's Ministry of the Economy attributed the strong growth in remittances to the "dynamism" of the US labor market, where total unemployment has dropped to 3.8% and Hispanic unemployment has dropped to 4.9%.     Remittance levels are strongly correlated to employment levels in the US.

Future remittance levels do face certain threats, however.   The 195,000 Salvadorans with TPS protection will lose their work authorization in September 2019 and face a struggle to avoid deportation.   Other US efforts to remove migrants will also impac…

A Salvadoran reality of gender-based violence ignored by Jeff Sessions

Women, bringing their children, are fleeing gender-based violence in El Salvador and seeking asylum in the United States.   Yet, in the case of a woman from El Salvador, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is re-writing asylum law to eliminate the possibility of protection for these women.

From the American Immigration Council:
In the latest attack on asylum seekers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions single-handedly overturned years of immigration precedent to find that many victims of violence will not qualify for asylum. His strongly-worded opinion strikes an especially devastating blow to Central American asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom seek protection in the United States after fleeing gang violence, domestic violence, or both. Sessions certified to himself a 2016 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in Matter of A-B-, a case involving a woman from El Salvador who was granted asylum based on severe domestic violence she experienced. In his decision, he targets a…