El Salvador President: Ramping Up Border Security to Help ‘Most Important Ally’ USA

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Salvadorean President Nayib Bukele (R) after signing bilateral agreements at the presidential residence in San Salvador on July 21, 2019. (Photo by MARVIN RECINOS / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images)
MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images

The number of migrants coming from El Salvador to the United States is dropping, thanks to cooperation from the country’s president and an agreement the Trump administration brokered with the Central American country.

“We signed the agreement because we want to show our friendship to our most important ally, which is the United States,” El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele said when he met with President Donald Trump at the United Nations last week.

“Though its details are still unclear, the deal would require foreign nationals who cross into El Salvador seeking asylum to apply for it there rather than in the United States,” the World Politics Review reported.

The agreement allegedly also requires those seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in El Salvador while waiting for approval or disapproval of their claim.

The World Politics Review also reported that Bukele does not blame Trump for any consequences people trying to reach the U.S. Mexican border might face, including the death of a man and his daughter from El Salvador:

After shocking photos of a Salvadoran father and his 2-year-old daughter who had drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande made international headlines, Bukele said it was El Salvador’s fault they had died. “They fled El Salvador, they fled our country,” he declared. “It is our fault.” 

“The U.S. government donated $150,000 to the new force to update its patrol trucks,” the World Politics Review reported.

National Public Radio (NPR) also reported on the new immigration enforcement agreement, including the comments from immigration agent Mateo Molina translated by reporter Emily Green:

He says things are different now. The Salvadoran government has given them more support and resources. Earlier this month, El Salvador began deploying more than a thousand police officers, soldiers and immigration agents to its border. But today, there are no smugglers to be found. The convoy stops a lone driver.

Molina says immigration agents used to have a passive role, that they could ask for documents only if the police intervened. Now they have the power to stop people on their own. Just a year ago, Trump referred to El Salvador in derogatory terms, but that seems to have been forgiven all around. El Salvador’s new president, Nayib Bukele, praised the migration deal in a press conference with Trump.

“For us, the United States is not only a partner and an ally but also a friend,” Bukele said. “And we’re going to show that friendship. That’s one of the reasons we signed the agreement – because we want to show the friendship to our most important ally, which is the United States.”

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