Salvadorans who fled to US to escape violence returned to it

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In this Feb. 12, 2020 photo, transgender woman Leticia shows a photograph of Camila Daz, another transgender woman she met while migrating to the U.S. where they both turned themselves in to U.S. immigration authorities and were eventually deported, during an interview at the office of rights group "Arcoiris Trans," or Rainbow Trans, in San Salvador. Camila Daz disappeared the night of Jan. 30, 2019 as she worked the streets of San Salvador and was found the next day, badly beaten but still alive. Emergency personnel took her to the hospital, where she died on Feb. 3. According to investigations, police had stopped Daz in the street, and later threw her from a moving police vehicle on a highway. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)


SAN SALVADOR – Several years ago, Camila Díaz left her native El Salvador and went to the United States, looking for a place where she would be safer as a transgender woman.

But she failed to find a sympathetic ear. Deported back to San Salvador, the nation's capital, she was killed just over a year later.

Díaz, 30, was one of 138 Salvadorans deported from the United States who have been killed upon returning to their country since 2013, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

As the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump steps up efforts to block asylum, the report reflect a bleak picture created in part by gang violence in El Salvador and struggling law enforcement agencies there, some experts say.

“El Salvador is a small country, a poor country, a very violent country and so the police are stretched,” said Meg Galas, Country Director of Northern Central America for the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organization.

“When people are deported they are deported right back into the violence and the fear that they left,” she said.

International law does not allow countries to send refugees back to a place where they fear persecution. Some activists claim that, under Trump, the U.S. is not following its own procedures of giving asylum seekers a chance to explain their complicated situations and is, instead, blocking their right to be heard.