An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Salvadorans Weigh In On How They View The U.S. Immigration Situation


Now to one of the countries many of those crossing the border have come from, El Salvador. Those who are deported back there arrive holding their belongings and telling stories of detention. Reporter Emily Green spent an afternoon in San Salvador and met some of these deportees.

EMILY GREEN, BYLINE: The separation of families is such a big deal here that sports broadcasters interrupted a World Cup soccer game to announce President Trump planned to end the practice. At a migrant center in the capital city of San Salvador, dozens of people wait outside metal gates to meet family members who are returning after being deported from the U.S. Rosa Dia says it's obvious Trump doesn't care for Salvadorans. But that didn't stop her 22-year-old son from trying to enter the country.

ROSA DIA: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: "The poverty that we have here in El Salvador is the reason he decided to leave. We don't have anywhere to live. He told me, Mom, I want to go so I can buy land and live on my own."

Roughly 38 percent of people in El Salvador live below the poverty line. Many earn less than $10 a day. The country also has one of the highest murder rates in the world partly driving the wave of immigration and asylum seekers. As the afternoon wears on, the street outside the migrant center begins to fill up with anxious family members and street vendors selling food.


GREEN: Slowly the deportees come out carrying small bags that contain all their belongings. One of them, Francisco Aguilar, says Trump's separation policy has impacted him. Aguilar was caught and held in a detention center before being deported and says, in the future, he would never attempt to cross a border with a child.

FRANCISCO AGUILAR: (Speaking Spanish).

GREEN: He says, "if one can handle the crossing, they should do it alone because the kids aren't to blame and shouldn't have to suffer." While President Trump has issued an executive order meant to end this policy, many people in El Salvador are skeptical, among them Hector Aquiles, the director of a government agency that seeks to protect immigrants and their families.

HECTOR AQUILES: It's just a political statement. How many lies has he made in this year and a half? Thousands. So why am I going to trust him? Why am I going to believe him?

GREEN: For now, the furor in El Salvador over the separation of families in the U.S. shows no sign of waning. Local media here describe detained children allegedly being hit, while editorials rail about what they describe as Trump's racist policies. For NPR News, I'm Emily Green in San Salvador.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLEN PORTER'S "TRANSIENT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Emily Green