U.S. Refugee Program Expansion: A Step in the Right Direction

  on July 27, 2016

KIND welcomes the Obama Administration’s expansion of refugee resettlement processing as another step in the right direction to protect refugees fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America. Resettlement provides a critical avenue to safe haven for at least some refugees suffering persecution in their home countries.  El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras rank among the most violent countries in the world, and children have been especially affected by the breakdown in the rule of law.

“This is a critical response, and KIND is pleased that vulnerable children and families will have expanded access to protection from rape, murder, kidnapping, and other human right abuses,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “We hope these expansions will have a significant impact on ensuring that children and families can find safety from the rampant violence that threatens their lives.”

The ability for those in serious danger in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to access in-country processing and to go to Costa Rica to await the outcome of their refugee claim through the new Protection Transfer Agreement (PTA) is a significant advance in the protection of the most vulnerable in these countries. While limited to only 200 people during the first six months of the program, KIND hopes that the PTA can soon be expanded to reach more in desperate need of safety.

KIND also welcomes the expansion of the Central American Minors (CAM) program to include siblings of qualified children over 21, parents who are in-country with the qualified child, and caregivers who are in-country with the child and who are related to the parents who have lawful status in the United States. The expansion of CAM to include family members promotes family unity and greatly promotes the well-being of children in CAM.

KIND remains concerned, however that children can only apply to CAM if they have a parent with lawful status in the United States. This greatly limits the number of extremely vulnerable children able to access U.S. protection.  It is also critical that the United States preserve access to U.S. territory for children and families who arrive at our borders so they can pursue asylum here.

“We are gratified that the United States is increasingly recognizing that the violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America rises to the level of a refugee situation,” said Young. “The expansion of the resettlement program, U.S. investment in programs to address the root causes of migration, and U.S. support for the expansion of Mexico’s asylum program together represent a meaningful beginning to addressing the serious protection concerns we see in the region.”

For more information, please contact Megan McKenna, mmckenna@supportkind.org, 202-631-9990.

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