The Obama administration is planning to expand a program to let would-be migrants from Central America apply for refugee status before they attempt to come to the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees will now conduct initial screenings to see whether migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala may qualify as refugees eligible to come to the United States legally.
“I am pleased to announce plans to expand the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to help vulnerable families and individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and offer them a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits,” Kerry said in a speech at the National Defense University.
Later Wednesday President Barack Obama authorized the State Department to access up to $70 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund “for the purpose for meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs related to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”
In December 2014, the U.S. began offering refugee status to children in those countries who have parents already living legally in the United States. So far thousands of children have applied for the program but very few been approved to come to the U.S.
The latest effort is aimed at expanding that program by moving applicants, both families and single individuals, into safe zones to await processing. (more),This seems a little more humane then rounding up the refugees who have made it to the US and sending them back unwillingly to a country dangerous enough that the US Peace Corps is pulling out at the end of the month.