us expands central american refugee screening program
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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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US expands Central American refugee screening program

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US expands Central American refugee screening program
Washington - Arab Today

The Obama administration announced new efforts on Tuesday aimed at expanding the number of people from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who may enter the United States as refugees fleeing violence.
Under the plan, Costa Rica will host up to 200 applicants at a time as they are processed by the Department of Homeland Security for possible resettlement, according to several administration officials who spoke to reporters by phone.
The United States will also expand its program for child refugees and allow some people to apply for refugee status in their home country.
The steps are modest in comparison to plans announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in January to open several refugee processing centers in the region.
Since October, nearly 80,000 children and families from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been apprehended at the southern US border with Mexico, sparking heated debate on the presidential campaign trail over whether to welcome migrants fleeing violence or build a wall to keep them out.
The officials said the United States would expand its Central American Minors program that allows children under 21 with at least one parent living in the United States to apply for refugee status. Under the new guidelines, a sibling, care giver or other parent of a qualifying child may apply for refugee status.
Only 267 minors have entered the United States since the program began in December 2014. But Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters there are 2,880 applicants who have been approved and are awaiting resettlement.
The New York Times reported at the time of Kerry’s announcement in January the United States planned to take in as many as 9,000 Central American refugees.
Under the agreement announced Tuesday, Costa Rica will only take refugees who have been deemed too vulnerable to remain in their native countries.
Only 200 will be sent to Costa Rica at a time and the waiting period can last six months, said Anne Richard, assistant secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration at the State Department.
Convincing countries to host a center has been difficult for US negotiators because of concerns that slow processing times would lead to a backlog of refugees with nowhere to go, according to a Department of Homeland security source.

Source: Arab News

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