Obama administration officials are considering a plan that would allow Hondurans under 21 to apply for refugee status from their home country, without having to make the dangerous trek to America. Meanwhile, a new CNN poll shows that a slim majority of Americans now believe the U.S. should focus on deportations over legalization.
According to The New York Times, the proposal is just one of many being discussed, but would likely see 5,000 children applying for 1,750 spots, costing the U.S. $47 million over two years. If they program was successful it would be expanded to El Salvador and Guatemala. Officials added that the plan could be enacted through executive action, as long as it doesn't increase the number of refugees admitted into the country each year.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez, one of the three Central American presidents meeting with President Obama Friday to discuss the child migrant crisis, said Thursday that he hadn't yet heard the plan but expected a solution for all three countries. "We expect that the solution to this problem also is equal for the three countries," he told the Associated Press.
Critics of the plan argue that it changes the legal definition of a refugee — typically refugees are targeted for their religious or cultural affiliations, not general violence. At the same time, the administration's draft of the plan noted that 64.7 percent of unaccompanied migrant minors were granted asylum by immigration courts. Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argued that illegal immigration would increase by an "order of magnitude" if applying for a refugee visa involved "nothing more than a bus ride to the consulate. We’re talking about, down the road, an enormous additional flow of people from those countries.”