Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A teeny tiny US response

The US is taking a tiny step forward towards treating Salvadorans and other Central Americans fleeing gang violence. As reported in the Tico Times:

The governments of the United States and Costa Rica announced Tuesday that Costa Rica would begin hosting Central American refugees applying for asylum in the United States and other countries as part of a protection transfer arrangement with the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration.

As many as 200 refugees at a time from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — the so-called Northern Triangle — will be allowed to stay in Costa Rica for up to six months while they are processed for potential asylum in the U.S. or elsewhere, UNHCR chief in Costa Rica Carlos Maldonado told reporters during a news conference at Casa Presidencial in San José on Tuesday. The U.S. State Department announced the agreement in a news release.

Working with the UNHCR and the IOM, the United States will pre-screen “vulnerable applicants” in the region seeking asylum. Applicants in need of immediate protection can then be sent to Costa Rica for processing before traveling to the U.S. or another country.
I might have exaggerated the size of this program when I called it tiny. I should have called it teeny tiny.   200 people per year? In a year when 146,000 Central Americans are fleeing as refugees?  That's 0.14%.     It's embarrassing that the US State Department is patting itself on the back for this program. Meanwhile the other program to deal with this issue, the Central American Minors Program, has admitted 267 minors out of more than 9500 applicants in two years. I guess that makes two teeny tiny programs.

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