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Central Americans Denied Asylum in US Killed Upon Return: Report

First Posted: Oct 14, 2015 04:45 PM EDT
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Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A new report published by The Guardian reveals undocumented immigrants fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the U.S. are being deported and returned to their homes where they face the imminent threat of violence and death.

The Guardian investigation found several immigrants were murdered either within days or months of being deported by the U.S. government back to Central America.

For example, the report identifies three young men who fled Honduras on separate occasions to escape violence only to be gunned down in their hometowns shortly after being deported by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, one of the men was murdered just a few days after he was expelled from the U.S.

In addition, an academic study identified up to 83 U.S. deportees who have been murdered on their return to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras since January 2014.

Human rights experts warn that following the 2014 surge in unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border, the federal government has hastily expelled or deported undocumented immigrants without providing asylum to those in need. This, they say, violates international law and puts immigrants at risk of being returned to extremely dangerous situations in Central America.

According to Clara Long, an immigration researcher for Human Rights Watch, there has been a "generalized crackdown" across the immigration service in the wake of the 2014 surge.

"Detention has been expanded and people are increasingly being put into fast-track deportation procedures in which their claims for asylum are not being properly considered," she said.

A recent Human Rights Watch report also found that the increasing use of "expedited removals" of people at the Mexican border was returning many to potential danger in spite of their expressed fears of returning home.

"This comes down to our regard for the dignity and lives of others," Long said. "Part of the identity of the US is that we adhere to international law, and that says that when people flee for their lives, states are obligated to provide them with protection. We are putting people through an increasingly criminalized detention-based system that risks returning people to their deaths."

Elizabeth Kennedy, a social scientist at San Diego State University, has identified 45 cases of deportees who have been murdered on their return to El Salvador, while 35 died after being sent back to Honduras and three died when they were returned to Guatemala since January of last year.

"These figures tell us that the US is returning people to their deaths in violation of national and international law. Most of the individuals reported to have been murdered lived in some of the most violent towns in some of the most violent countries in the world -- suggesting strongly that is why they fled," she said.

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