Globe, Latin America, Migrants, United Kingdom

An unexpected and large-scale emigration

The actions taken by the Bukele government have resulted in El Salvador’s crime rate being significantly lower than in previous periods. However, emigration flows are at record levels in recent years.


Luis Beatón


According to local authorities, more than 6,000 Salvadorans migrated with work visas to the United States and Canada between 2019 and 2021, and there are still many who want to flee their country. A recent survey by the Universidad Centroamericana shows that 21.4% of those surveyed would like to leave in the next 12 months.

What is certain is that as long as other factors beyond gang violence that push people to leave the country are not addressed, such as lack of economic opportunities, climate change that causes droughts and floods that destroy families’ crops, and the desire to join relatives in another country, the ocean will continue to rise, Factum concluded.

For the time being, the government has ensured that three groups of workers on temporary employment visas travelled to Canada in 2023.

“The US programme is managed by Foreign Affairs, (and) we have more than 6,000 people between the United States and Canada (benefiting) from the labour migration programme,” confirmed the Minister of Labour, Óscar Rolando Castro.

The jobs for these people will be in gardening, agriculture, meat cutting, livestock, fishing and manufacturing.

These legal and rotational journeys are just a drop in the ocean of Salvadorans who move legally and illegally to northern countries seeking to improve their lives and those of thousands of family members who remain in the country.

Despite official propaganda, the northward migration flow did not cease under Nayib Bukele’s presidency, something that has been going on for decades, and according to a report by Factum magazine, the multitude continues to leave El Salvador.

The publication indicated that Bukele and his government do not acknowledge the record flight of people from the country, and instead claim that there is a record improvement over the past.

Throughout 2022, Bukele and his ambassador to the United States, Milena Mayorga, wielded statistics in their favour to celebrate El Salvador’s ranking as a country with fewer outflows of migrants to the United States compared to other countries, the magazine said.

However, he clarified, Salvadorans continue to emigrate and, leaving aside the comparatives, the individual numbers per country reflect a record rise for El Salvador during the fiscal years 2019, 2021 and 2022 of this government.

Figures show that the number of them living in the United States who are at risk of being deported exceeds half a million as of this date.

A 2022 Annual Report states that there are 543,627 Cuscatlecos on what Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) calls the “non-detainer list”.

That means they received a final order to be deported from the United States and are still living in the United States, or they have an open deportation case in an immigration court.

Other statistics indicate that as of December 2022, there were 167,620 open removal cases against them in US immigration courts.

(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: Pixabay.

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