Sep 20, 2019

Trump administration reaches asylum deal with El Salvador

Migrants being led out of the National Institute of Migration in downtown Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration signed an asylum agreement with El Salvador on Friday, which could force Central American migrants who pass through the country to first seek asylum there or be sent back to the country once they reach the U.S..

Why it matters: The new agreement is the latest attempt to curtail Central Americans seeking asylum in the U.S.

  • In return, the U.S. will help El Salvador with its capacity to offer asylum to migrants.
  • El Salvador's Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill also said at Friday's agreement signing that they need to find ways to offer legal immigration avenues for Salvadorans as well as protections for Salvadorans who are already legally in the U.S.
  • It is unclear when the agreement will actually take effect.
  • A similar deal was struck with Guatemala earlier this summer, although it has yet to go into effect. President Trump told the Department of Homeland Security to reach a deal soon with Honduras as well, Buzzfeed has reported.

By the numbers: More than 86,000 Salvadorans have attempted to cross the U.S. border themselves. While there have been far more migrants from Honduras and Guatemala overall, there have been more family members and children from El Salvador crossing the border than from Mexico, according to CBP data.

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Hill signed the deal in front of a room of reporters at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices in Washington, D.C.

Go deeper: Court ruling again allows Trump asylum restrictions in Texas and New Mexico

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The U.S. will unfreeze at least some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid for El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala that was blocked earlier this year, President Trump tweeted and the State Department announced on Wednesday.

Between the lines: Over the past few months, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan — who turned in his resignation last Friday and is currently in El Salvador — has signed asylum agreements with the three nations.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

Kevin McAleenan to step down as acting Homeland Security secretary

Kevin McAleenan delivers remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations on Sept. 23, 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday evening that acting Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan will leave his position and move into "the private sector" after 6 months in the role.

The big picture: Trump has been wary of McAleenan, whom he associates with the Obama administration, officials told Axios in August. McAleenan, the former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, took over the acting role following Kirstjen Nielsen’s abrupt resignation.

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Trump lowering the number of refugees permitted into U.S. to 18,000

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The Trump administration is proposing to cut the number of refugees permitted to resettle in the U.S. next year to just 18,000 — down from a record-low of 30,000 last year, according to a State Department press release on Thursday.

Why it matters: The administration also plans to prioritize refugees who have been persecuted for religious beliefs, Iraqis who have helped the U.S. overseas, and legitimate refugees from Northern Triangle countries, per the release. This would be the fourth time the Trump administration lowered the refugee cap, and it had reportedly discussed lowering it to zero. There are more displaced people in the world today than at any point since World War II, according to the United Nations.

Go deeperArrowSep 26, 2019