NEW YORK (AP) — The United States on Friday signed an agreement that paves the way for the U.S. to send many asylum-seekers to one of the world’s most violent countries, El Salvador. But both countries must first take necessary legal actions and implement major border security and asylum procedures before it would go into effect, according to a draft copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press.

By Colleen Long and Astrid Galvan

The deal is the latest ambitious step taken by the Trump administration to lean on other nations — many of them notoriously violent — to take in immigrants to stop the flow of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. immigration officials also are forcing more than 42,000 people to remain in Mexico as their cases play out and have changed policy to deny asylum to anyone who transited through a third country en route to the southern border of the U.S.

Curbing immigration is a signature political issue for Trump and one that thrills his supporters. But the U.S. is also managing a crush of migrants at the border that has strained the system.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and El Salvador’s foreign minister, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, signed the “cooperative asylum agreement” in a live-streamed press conference on Friday.

They lauded the two countries for working together to stem migration to the U.S. but provided few details about the agreement.

Condemnation from migrant and refugee advocates was swift.

“Where will they declare a haven for asylum seekers next? Syria? North Korea? This is cynical and absurd. El Salvador is in no way safe for asylum seekers,” said Refugees International President Eric Schwartz.

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