Over the last two years, there has been a surge in the number of Central American immigrants heading to the United States to flee the gang violence that has torn apart their native countries. Before the end of 2015, it was reported that the Obama administration planned to deport hundreds of Central American families at the start of 2016, and in the first weekend of 2016, there was a sweep that ended with 121 people being taken into custody, according to Politico.
On Thursday, the Salvadoran government successfully halted the deportation of 22 of its citizens, Listin Diario reports. “These people have a deportation order, but we have made extraordinary efforts and have succeeded in getting authorities to look at each of their cases individually, so for the moment, no one will be deported back to El Salvador,” said El Salvador’s chancellor, Hugo Martínez.
Martínez credits Vice Minister of Foreign Relations for Salvadorans Living Abroad Liduvina Magarín for convincing the United States to reconsider the fates of these 22 immigrants.
Though Martínez doesn’t know if their efforts will be enough to stop them from being deported in the end, there are people from other Central American countries that have already been repatriated. 37 people – 21 minors and 16 mothers – were sent back to Honduras on Thursday, according to a Salvadoran newspaper.
The difference may lie in the fact that El Salvador, which is now the murder capital of the world, can effectively argue that their citizens’ lives are in danger. USA Today reports that in 2015, 6,657 people were murdered, which is a 70 percent increase from 2014. This year, there were 104 people killed for every 100,000 – something that World Bank data says is the highest homicide rate in the last 20 years.
“Keep in mind, you’re talking about the national average,” Adriana Beltrán of the Washington Office on Latin America said about El Salvador’s homicide rate. “If you start looking at where the pockets of violence are, it’s shocking.