May 4, 2017 / 3:09 AM / 3 months ago

El Salvador eyes tracking U.S. deportees to curb gangs

2 Min Read

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador proposed new measures on Wednesday to track criminal deportees from the United States as part of a bid to keep violent street gangs known as "Maras" from expanding as U.S. President Donald Trump vows to kick them out.

Salvadoran Vice President Oscar Ortiz said the government wants to create a database of criminal deportees overseen by police to make sure they do not join gangs after returning.

Ortiz said that deportees with criminal records would be classified according to the crime for which they were deported and may be forced by court order to appear before the police every month.

"The measure seeks to ensure that they are not engaged in illegal activities. That's to say, they should be making an effort to reinsert themselves into society, to build a normal life with their family," Ortiz told journalists.

A spike in deportations from the United States has stoked fears in El Salvador that the ranks of Maras, also known as the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, and other gangs may swell.

Last month Trump said that immigration policies under former President Barack Obama had allowed Maras to take root in U.S. cities. "We are removing them fast!" Trump said on Twitter.

Ortiz did not specify when the proposal would be sent to Congress.

El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, with some 81.7 out of 100,000 people murdered, according to the United Nations.

Deportations of Salvadorans from the United States rose 13 percent in the first four months of 2017 to 6,559, according to official immigration figures in the Central American country.

Reporting By Nelson Renteria; Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Sandra Maler

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