Tags: Barack Obama | Immigration | Obama | Refugee | status | illegal | children

Obama Approves Plan for Illegal Children to Get Refugee Status

Image: Obama Approves Plan for Illegal Children to Get Refugee Status
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 10:56 AM

President Barack Obama has approved a plan to give thousands of children from Central America the opportunity to get refugee status in the United States.

According to The New York Times, the program is aimed to discourage illegal border crossings by helping families to determine their eligibility before they leave their home countries to undertake a treacherous journey to the United States.

"We are establishing in-country refugee processing to provide a safe, legal and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that children are currently undertaking to join relatives in the United States," Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the White House, told the Times.

Processing centers will be located in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, according to the Times. Some of the programs specifics are still being discussed such as the qualifying age for children and the severity of the circumstances that would make applicants eligible.

Under current U.S. law, to qualify for refugee status, children would need to be considered a "social group" vulnerable to crime and violence in their home countries, experts told the Times.

Human rights activists have welcomed the plan, saying it would go some way to protecting children against the threat of violence and in some cases death by drug trafficking gangs, the Times reported.

Critics claim the program could encourage more children to cross illegally, capping a year that saw the influx of tens of thousands of immigrants entering the United States which prompted public outrage as well as concern about where they would be housed.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Times "orders of magnitude more people will apply for refugee status if they can just do it from their home countries."

Officials, however, say the program will not expand the total number of refugee visas approved by the United States. A State Department document shows that of the total of 70,000 refugee visas approved for 2014, 4,000 are for those from Latin America and the Caribbean.

The plan comes following a sharp spike in the numbers of minors crossing the border over the last year. In 2011, just 6,000 unaccompanied minors crossed, whereas predictions for 2014 put the estimate at 90,000.

The Obama administration has been blamed for the influx with some arguing that it has given the message to Central American countries that children would be permitted to remain in the country upon arrival, a perception that appears to have been reinforced by the home countries.

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President Barack Obama has approved a plan to give thousands of children from Central America the opportunity to get refugee status in the United States.
Obama, Refugee, status, illegal, children
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2014-56-01
Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 10:56 AM
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