6,212 have criminal records.
SAN SALVADOR -- A total of 19,701 Salvadorans have been deported from the United States since Jan. 1, including 6,212 with criminal records, the Central American country's deputy minister of Public Safety announced Friday.
Astor Escalante said in an interview with Telecorporacion Salvadoreņa that Salvadorans deported as undocumented aliens rose to 13,489 in 2008, while in 2007 the number at year's end was 14,905.
Some 240,000 undocumented Salvadorans are allowed to live and work in the United States under Temporary Protected Status, first extended after El Salvador was devastated by earthquakes in January and February 2001 and renewed multiple times since then.
Remittances from the 2.5 million Salvadorans residing in the United States constitute their homeland's biggest single source of income.
An official at El Salvador's migration agency told Efe that among deportees from the United States with criminal records this year were 34 cases of murder, 30 of kidnapping, 1,206 of robbery, 1,060 for drug sales and 487 for sexual abuse or rape.
Escalante said that the deportees with criminal records have for several years been "a factor that increases criminality, even though there was a reduction of crimes" in El Salvador this year, with 342 fewer murders than in 2007.
He did not provide figures for the total number of murders in each year.
According to different sources, eight murders are currently committed daily in El Salvador, while over the last decade there were months in which the number rose to 10 or 11 a day.
The deputy minister said that a much of the violence is generated by street gangs, which according to the police have some 9,600 members nationwide, many of them already behind bars.
The gangs originated two decades ago on the streets of Los Angeles among young Salvadorans whose parents fled their nation's then-civil war for the United States.
Because many of the gangbangers were born in El Salvador, they were subject to deportation when rounded up during crackdowns in California in the 1990s. Sent back "home" to a land they barely knew, they formed gangs that spread throughout the small nation and to neighboring countries in Central America.