Obama mulls refugee status for Honduran kids

 

The Obama administration is considering a plan granting U.S. refugee status for children in Honduras, according to reports, in an effort to stem the flood of youths illegally crossing the border.

If the plan is approved, the U.S. government would set up a resettlement center in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa and screen thousands of children to determine whether they could enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds.

The plan is meant to reduce the influx of unaccompanied children flowing into the U.S. from Central America. Most of the more than 57,000 kids who have entered the U.S. since October are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

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If the administration authorizes the plan, and it’s successful in Honduras, it could also reportedly be applied to the other two Central American countries as well. 

The proposal, obtained by The New York Times and The Associated Press, was developed by several federal agencies. The White House, and the Justice, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and State departments are now deciding whether to move forward with it. 

The White House told the Times, however, that it’s the least likely of the border fixes the administration is considering.

Between 35 percent to 50 percent of applications could be considered for the program, and only those under 21 would likely be eligible. The draft said if 5,000 people applied; 1,750 could be accepted, and it would cost $47 million over two years. 

The proposal is similar to legislation proposed by Arizona Sens. John McCain (R) and Jeff Flake (R), which would increase the number of refugee visas for Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala by 3,000 each, the Times noted.

President Obama is scheduled to meet with the presidents of the three Central American countries on Friday at the White House.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said in an interview with The Washington Post Thursday that the U.S. is partially responsible for the crisis. 

"If you look at the root of the problem, you’ll realize that your country has enormous responsibility for this," Hernandez said.

He said the high demand for illegal drugs in the U.S. is causing the influx.

Drug trafficking to the U.S. "generates violence, reduces opportunities [and] generates migration because this is where there’s the largest consumption of drugs,” he said. “And we’re on the route.”

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