Salvadoran Reaction to President Biden's Immigration Reform Statements


The purpose of this article is to give a sampling of Salvadoran policymaker and thought leader opinions regarding President Biden and his proposed immigration reform. Overall, there is high expectations of the new President and reaction has been favorable but with noted caution.

Positive Reactions:

“There are more than eleven million immigrants who would benefit from a legal permanent status in the United States through a green card. This first fresh air of governance from President Biden is important to migrants” – Congressman René Portillo Cuadra, ARENA Party.

“We hope that the relations between President Joe Biden and the President of the Republic (Nayib Bukele) will be close to being able to help Salvadorans abroad. For those of DACA, TPS, and thousands of Salvadorans who do not have documents, we hope that the President will work towards positive reform” –Congressman Reynaldo Cardoza, National Coalition Party. [1]

César Ríos, Vice-President of Instituto Salvadoreño de Atención al Migrante (INSAMI), celebrated the measure. “The suspension of the agreement by the new United States government makes it clear that immigration policy will recover the human component and this is a great message to our government.”

The Salvadoran Foreign Minister, Alexandra Hill, said that the decision to suspend Trump era orders “strengthens the hope that the Central American Northern Triangle countries will advance towards a comprehensive immigration reform.”

Cautious Reactions:

“I hope that the things that President Biden has raised could be fulfilled. There are skeptics: the current president was the vice-president in the Obama administration and Obama's mandate still remains the one that caused the most deportations to our country” –Congresswoman, Karina Sosa, FMLN Party [2].

“We are very cautious, because Biden was Obama's vice president. Not even Trump in his four years could break Obama's record of deportations in eight years.” Salvador Sanabria, President of Instituto Salvadoreño de Atención al Migrante (INSAMI)

“We are cautious with the new administration. We have heard the things that we want to hear, such as protection for “Tepesians” (TPA), DACA, for migrants in the United States; however, this is no more than just talking points. We are waiting for the policies to be implemented” –Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, Executive Director at Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos (CARECEN).

“What we have for now are positive preliminary gestures” – Helena Olea, Director at Alianza Américas, an organization focused on improving the quality of life of people in the migratory corridor between the United States and Central America – “I believe that the advances of this moment are undoubted and deserve to be highlighted (but) the pandemic has been used as an excuse to close the border.” [3]


President Nayib Bukele has not made public statements on the recent changes made by President Biden. However, he was quick to embrace former President Donald Trump's tough immigration policies that restricted asylum claims [4]

The State Department's office for the Western Hemisphere indicated that the Biden administration values what it considers a strong relationship between El Salvador and the United States, and that it will work closely with its allies to address the challenges facing the region [5]

Overall, Salvadoran leaders see hope moving forward with the Biden Administration but want to see tangible polices that go beyond initial statements.


[1] “El Salvador: optimismo por anulación de acuerdo migratorio con EE.UU.” VOA, February 10, 2021, accessed at:

[2] “Diputados en El Salvador tienen altas expectativas por las promesas de EUA hacia inmigrantes,” La Prensa, January 20, 2021, accessed at:

[3] “Estamos muy cautelosos, porque Biden fue el vicepresidente de Obama": organizaciones están expectantes ante políticas migratorias,” La Prensa, February 10, 2021, accessed at: [4] “Presidente de El Salvador niega que haya pedido reunirse con funcionarios del gobierno Biden,” CNN, February 12, 2021, accessed at: [5] “Exasesor senior de Barack Obama confirmó que Bukele buscó reuniones con gobierno de Biden y fue rechazado,” El Salvador.Com, February 12, 2021, accessed at:

About The Author

Robert Kirkland

is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and operational Latin American Foreign Area Officer. He has a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, West Point and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of Pittsburgh. He also has a graduate certificate in Latin American Studies from the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He also helps guide students in Service Academy admissions as well as ROTC scholarships.

He has provided expert testimony on drug cartel and gang violence in Mexico and Central America since his retirement from the Army in 2014. He can be reached at info@ or at his website

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.