Recently, more undocumented workers have been entering the US from El Salvador than from any country other than Mexico, according to recent reports:
This new trend in Salvadorian immigration has no simple explanation, Marvin Andrade, director of programming for the Los Angeles-based Central American Resource Center, said.
A possible explanation for recent Salvadorian immigration is the destruction caused by Hurricane Stan.
"It's not surprising that there is an increase in immigration from Central America right now," he said.
"We believe that is the case, because of Hurricane Stan, and the situation that they are facing with the devastation -- the floods and the destruction that has occurred is what is driving that exodus of people."
The same story also noted a court decision, called the Orantes decision, which requires Salvadorans be given a hearing before any deportation proceeding. They cannot simply be picked up and placed on a bus back across the border:
Immigrants from El Salvador are not eligible for Expedited Removal (ER), a program that applies to undocumented immigrants who have spent less than 14 days in the country and who were apprehended within 100 miles of the border.
Expedited removal, which works to control illegal immigration at U.S. borders, began in the Valley in July of this year.
"It allows DHS to rapidly return aliens who are illegally crossing the border, while giving those seeking protection an opportunity to pursue their claim before an immigration judge," said Nina Pruneda, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which runs ER.
All Salvadorian immigrants must be afforded full deportation proceedings due to the 1989 Orantes decision, said Washington D.C. Border Patrol spokesman Salvador Zamora. This excludes them from ER, he said, and mandates an immigration hearing for all Salvadorian nationals.
Zamora said the Orantes decision might have an impact on the growing number of Salvadorians crossing into the United States.
"One of the strong reasons why the amount of Salvadorians being arrested has not decreased is because there is no deterrent effect, because there is no ER," Zamora explained.
The US Department of Homeland Security is seeking to eliminate the Orantes ruling to expedite the process of deporting Salvadoran nationals:
The Orantes injunction, issued over 17 years ago, mandates that the U.S. Government provide Salvadorans with a specific notice of rights indicating that they are entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge. In the Expedited Removal process aliens are not automatically entitled to such a hearing unless they express a fear of return and then pass a credible fear interview with an asylum officer.
In addition, in order to facilitate the alien's obtaining of counsel, the injunction also hinders DHS from transferring a detained Salvadoran out of the jurisdiction of apprehension for seven days. As a practical matter, this would make it difficult to comply with the mandatory detention requirement of the Expedited Removal statute, since detention beds in the area of apprehension are often full.
By removing the injunction, the typical processing time for Salvadorans could decrease from the current average of over 90 days to 35 days, the approximate Expedited Removal processing time. However, except for those required to be detained by law, due to limited bed space most Salvadorans are currently not being detained. With shorter turn around time, more detention space becomes available.
The injunction was based heavily on civil rights abuses in El Salvador which do not currently exist and affords Salvadorans arrested by immigration officers greater protections than aliens of other nationalities. This special treatment is no longer warranted due advances in El Salvador since the 1980s. In particular, El Salvador has been a country at peace since 1992 and has established institutions to ensure that human rights are protected. El Salvador now has a constitution which protects individual rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.