El Salvador demands U.S. return child taken from deported father

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador on Thursday demanded the United States return a child who had been taken from his father before the man was deported this week without any prior notification to embassy officials.

FILE PHOTO: El Salvador's Vice Minister for Salvadorans Abroad Liduvina Magarin speaks during a high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants at the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

El Salvador’s foreign ministry said it registered its first deportation of a father who had been separated from his son for trying to illegally enter the United States.

The man, who was not identified, was deported on Wednesday without any word to El Salvadoran embassy officials, as is required under an immigration deal with the United States, deputy foreign minister Liduvina Magarin said.

“We received a man who came traumatized because he didn’t have his son. His seven-year-old son remained in a shelter in the United States,” Magarin said.

“We have begun to coordinate with the American embassy to ask the child be repatriated as soon as possible.”

She said a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official had met with the man to start the process of returning the child before he was deported.

The government said it had only had received word about 93 El Salvadoran children who had been separated from their parents and placed in shelters and detention centers.

As part of a “zero-tolerance” policy, the United States has separated more than 2,300 children from their parents since mid-April after families illegally crossed the border with Mexico.

Outrage over images of children in wire cages and stories of divided families drove U.S. President Donald Trump to back down on Wednesday. He said families of immigrants would be kept together but they would still be prosecuted for illegal entry.

Tens of thousands of Central Americans have fled poverty and rising gang violence to try to cross into the United States, many seeking asylum, driving the Trump administration to implement its hardline policy.

Editing by James Dalgleish