More than 20,000 Salvadoran were deported from the US back to El Salvador during 2007. That means one out of every 300 persons in El Salvador right now arrived courtesy of US immigration authorities in the past 12 months.
Joe DeRaymond, an activist currently working in El Salvador, wrote to describe how this flow of persons from south to north has become institutionalized:
Looking north from El Salvador, one quickly realizes that there is no stopping this tide. The latest United Nations figures indicate that 1,070 people every day are leaving El Salvador for the trip north. This human flow is not a flow that will be stopped; it has been institutionalized and constructed into the societies of El Salvador, and of the United States.
For example, in 2007, Salvadorans working in the United States sent $3.695 billion back to El Salvador to family members left behind. This represents 18% of the Gross Domestic Product of El Salvador. The latest census data indicates that the population in El Salvador is about 5.6 million people, which means that almost a third of the population is living and working in the US, given that well over 2 million are in the US....
The trip north is made in many ways, depending on your resources. For $10,000, one can get a custom, first class journey north, by boat or plane. For those with no money, a very difficult train ride north, hopping freight trains through Mexico is a commonly used route. An often cited fee for an overland trip north with a guide, called a coyote, is $6,500. What these numbers mean is that every day, millions of dollars are spent on human traficking, on the monetization of migration from a weak, dominated economy to the largest consumer economy in the world.
And economically, El Salvador is hurting. Bean prices have gone from $.60 a pound in June of 2007 to $1.15 a pound throughout the country and as much as $1.25 a pound in the eastern part of the country. Bread and milk prices are rising rapidly; gasoline is at least $3.60 a gallon. There is high unemployment, and the jobs available do not pay enough to justify the work. The minimum wage in the countryside is $85 a month; in the city, $174 a month. If a family is not receiving remittances from a family member working in the US, it is very poor. (more)