Signals coming out of the Bush White House cannot look favorable to El Salvador. First, the administration is slashing its foreign aid to the country. As the Miami Herald reports:
The administration's fiscal year 2007 request to Congress includes a 28.5 percent cut in development assistance for Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the figures issued by the White House earlier this week....
The reductions include $15 million in cuts to El Salvador, from $22.5 million this year to $7.5 million next year, and a drop of $7.8 million to Nicaragua, from $20.8 million to just under $13 million. Support for the 34-country Organization of American States is cut by $7 million, from $64 million to $57 million.
Next, US Department of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff holds a press conference where he describes illegal immigration from El Salvador as a "significant challenge" and describes the administration's goal to increase its ability to deport Salvadorans immediately after their apprehension near the border.
Meanwhile, the Salvadoran government sends its sixth contingent of troops for a tour of duty in Iraq, and president Tony Saca will travel to meet with George Bush on February 24. The White House statement described the visit:
President [Bush] looks forward to meeting with President Saca and to underscoring his appreciation for President Saca's leadership in the war on terrorism, in promoting and defending democracy in the Western Hemisphere and beyond, and to expanding free trade and economic growth. The meeting will be an opportunity for the leaders of the United States and El Salvador, an important hemispheric partner of the United States, to discuss continuing cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
Noticeably absent is any mention of the subject which Tony Saca most wants to discuss -- US immigration policy and the possible termination of Temporary Protected Status which permits more than 200,000 Salvadorans to remain in the US.