Statement on U.S. Asylum Agreements with El Salvador and Honduras

AsylumConnect condemns the Trump administration’s September 20th and 25th agreements with El Salvador and Honduras that will require migrants passing through the Central American countries to seek asylum in the respective nations instead of continuing on to the U.S. to do so. These agreements come on the heels of the Supreme Court’s September 11th ruling to temporarily lift a lower court’s block to allow for the Trump administration to begin denying asylum requests from people at all points along the southern border who have traveled through Mexico or another country without seeking protection there first.

In a recent  Vox article, Randy Capps, director of research for US programs at the Migration Policy Institute says that these new agreements might, in fact, have been pushed as a precautionary measure in case the “safe-third-country” ruling is ultimately overturned. He further notes that the proposals could be a direct attack on Cuba and Nicaragua, whose emigrants typically pass through El Salvador and Honduras and whose governments have refrained from cooperating with the Trump administration on immigration reform. 

This pending agreement presents a tremendous threat to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. El Salvador, with the highest intentional homicide rate worldwide, is not a safe option for any asylum seeker, let alone for LGBTQ+ populations. In August of this year, the Spanish news agency EFE reported that many members of the LGBTQ+ community in El Salvador live in constant fear of persecution due to their identities. According to the news agency, more than 600 LGBTQ+ Salvadorans have been murdered since 1993, predominantly at the hands of gang members and police force. Trans women make up 67.5% of these deaths, with gay men following at 17.5%. El Salvador’s western neighbor, Honduras, has proven a similarly hostile environment for LGBTQ+ populations. This year alone, upwards of twenty-one LGBTQ-identified people have been murdered in the country. With the new asylum agreements in place, LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who must pass through El Salvador and Honduras will be subject to the same dangerous conditions.

We strongly urge the United States to dissolve all three pending asylum agreements targeting the Northern Triangle Region (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras).