SAN SALVADOR — One of El Salvador's top diplomats on Wednesday described conditions at shelters for migrant children in the United States as “totally inadequate,” blasted the Trump administration’s family-separation policy and warned that migrants should seriously consider any decision to travel north.
Liduvina Magarin, the deputy foreign minister in charge of Salvadorans abroad, said that the government had identified 93 of the roughly 2,000 children separated from their parents by the Trump administration in recent weeks as Salvadoran, although she acknowledged the number could change.
Magarin said that she was unaware of any cases where children or parents have been separated and then deported and that Salvadoran authorities are trying to reunite the families in the United States.
Latin American countries such as Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador had come out strongly this week in opposition to President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which is aimed at prosecuting more migrants for crossing the border illegally and in the process had separated children from their parents. The bulk of the separated children came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, official say.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said earlier this week that he “respected” Trump’s policy. On Tuesday, Guatemala changed course and joined the other countries in rejecting family separation.
After coming under intense pressure, Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to end family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Magarin, the Salvadoran official, said that U.S. authorities had made no official communication to her government about the separated children, adding that the authorities’ information had been gathered by Salvadoran diplomats following up on individual cases. She added that 71 of the 93 Salvadoran children identified by the government are 12 or younger.
“It’s unfortunate that they are sacrificing the youngest, who are not the ones who make the decision to migrate,” Magarin said at a news conference.
Magarin, who has recently visited shelters for migrant children in the United States, criticized the conditions in them, without providing details. She also urged Salvadorans to weigh the risks of the journey to the United States.
“Even though we know that it’s a right and we respect that, putting at risk children is a decision that also infringes in a way on the rights of the children once they find themselves in situations” such as being kept in U.S. government holding centers, she said.
Central American officials planned to travel to Mexico later this week to discuss a regional response to the issue.
Partlow reported from Mexico City.