Thursday, July 28, 2016

Obama administration to expand Central American refugee program for children fleeing danger

Associated Press photo by Eric Gay:
Youth detainees in Brownsville, Texas
The Obama administration said it will expand a program that allows unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to seek protections in the U.S. by applying within their own country, David Nakamura reports for The Washington Post. The program, launched in 2014 "after a massive influx of children that year swamped border patrol stations," allows Central American children fleeing danger to enter the U.S.

So far, from a pool of 9,500 applicants, 2,884 have been granted refugee status but only 267 have entered the U.S., Nakamura writes. "That number is minuscule compared with the thousands of children and families from those nations who are apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol each month while trying to enter the country." The Department of Homeland Security said that in June, "more than 11,000 children and family members crossed the border illegally."

"Under the expansion plans, three additional categories of people would be allowed to apply: older siblings of a qualified child, provided they have a parent already living lawfully in the U.S.; the biological parents of a qualified child; and caregivers of a qualified child, provided a parent is living lawfully in the U.S.," Nakamura writes. Also, "Mexico has agreed to increase the number of Central American refugees it will accept under its own program. And Costa Rica has agreed to provide safe harbor to as many as 200 Central American children considered in grave danger while their cases are being examined by the U.S. State Department." (Read more)

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