"May I Help You?": Deportations fuel the call-center industry in El Salvador
Drawn by low operating costs, generous tax incentives, and proximity to the U.S., more than ten major call-center firms now operate in El Salvador, employing some twenty thousand people. Deportations from the U.S. have fuelled the industry by bringing an influx of English-speaking job-seekers, reports The New Yorker this week.
Eddie Anzora, for example, was one of twenty thousand Salvadorans deported in 2007. He soon found a job in a company called Sykes, which ran one of the two largest call centers in San Salvador. Sykes, based in Florida, has call centers in twenty countries and employs about three thousand Salvadorans, who provide customer service and technical support to American businesses. In El Salvador, Sykes came to be known, in English, as “homieland,” because so many of its employees were deportees from the United States.
Since President Obama took office, in 2009, the U.S. has deported 2.7 million people, more than during any previous Administration. A hundred and fifty-two thousand of them are Salvadoran, and roughly twenty per cent have spent at least five years in the U.S. They generally speak fluent English—the most crucial requirement for call-center work. Their next most important quality is their desperation. Deportees are “very loyal,” a recruiter for a call center told the news service McClatchy. “They know they won’t get another shot.”
Read the full story in The New Yorker.