SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - The number of Salvadorans deported from the United States and Mexico fell 38 percent in the first three months of 2018, a U.N. agency said on Tuesday, a decline that coincided with President Donald Trump ending Salvadorans' temporary protected status (TPS).
According to data compiled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is supported by the United Nations, 5,829 Salvadorans were deported between January and March, compared with 9,392 during the first three months of 2017.
Jorge Peraza, the IOM's Central America chief, said the Trump administration's January announcement that it would end Salvadorans' TPS on Sept. 9, 2019, had contributed to a decline in northbound migration.
"The news of the cancellation of TPS also could have had an effect because in some ways, it acts as a disincentive to undertake a migratory project," he told Reuters, adding that declining murders in El Salvador and an anti-migration campaign were also factors.
In January, the Trump administration gave Salvadorans 18 months to seek lawful residency or leave the United States, and for El Salvador to prepare for their return. The TPS was granted in the wake of two devastating 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador that left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
The decision to end TPS for Salvadorans was part of the administration's broader push to tighten immigration laws and expel those living in the United States illegally.
The IOM data also showed that deportations of Hondurans and Guatemalans from the United States and Mexico had grown over the same period, up 29 percent and 48 percent, respectively.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria, editing by G Crosse)