In recent years, at least 138 people deported from the United States to El Salvador have been killed after their return, Human Rights Watch says in a report released Wednesday.
Some of the deaths occurred just days after the person was back in El Salvador, The Associated Press reports. Human Rights Watch believes even more people have been murdered, but because of the stigma of being deported, their deaths were not shared with authorities. More than 70 deportees also told Human Rights Watch they have been sexually assaulted since coming back to El Salvador. "Our concern is that many of these people are facing a death sentence," Human Rights Watch's Alison Leal Parker said.
Between 2014 and 2018, the United States deported roughly 111,000 Salvadorans, and the deaths occurred during the Trump and Obama administrations. The number of Salvadorans seeking asylum in the U.S. was up nearly 1,000 percent between 2012 and 2017, with most fleeing gang violence. El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.
Under the Trump administration, Central Americans seeking asylum are waiting in Mexico while their claims are being processed; previously, they were able to stay in the United States while waiting for a decision. Parker said many Salvadorans are experiencing violence in Mexican border towns, and Human Rights Watch is "deeply concerned by the Trump administration's effort to literally eviscerate the right to seek asylum in the United States."