The president of El Salvador told CBS News that his country does not have the capability to fulfill the terms of an asylum agreement it struck with the United States, although it could be developed in the future.
President Nayib Bukele said crime and poor economic conditions prevent the nation from being ready to accept any asylum-seekers, as the bilateral agreement calls for it to do.
"The reality is that our whole economy is in shatters, nothing works," Bukele said on "60 Minutes." "This is a country with a lot, a lot of problems."
Those problems include rampant violence and crime, raising questions about the legitimacy of any plan to try to funnel asylum-seekers — who have likely fled violent or dangerous conditions — to El Salvador.
"This is an agreement that has a lot of 'ifs,'" Bukele said, when asked how he could agree to accept asylum-seekers from the U.S. when his own country is so violent and dangerous. "This country has to be a lot safer."
El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras received millions of dollars in aid from the United States for agreeing to the asylum deal. Under the deal, which was reached in September.
The deal established El Salvador as a so-called "safe third country," meaning that people who come to the U.S. border seeking asylum could be turned away and sent to El Salvador where they could receive protected status.
The deal was a response to the issue of large caravans of migrants traveling from Central America through Mexico hoping to receive asylum in the United States. The influx of migrants overwhelmed U.S. southern border facilities, and also left large backlogs of migrants sitting in Mexican border towns to wait potentially years for their cases to be heard.
But Bukele is hopeful that with the help of the U.S., El Salvador can get to a point where it is a legitimate asylum destination for migrants.
"We don't have asylum capacities, but we can build them," Bukele said.
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(H/T: The Daily Caller)