The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Applauds Announcement on Expansion of Program for Central American Migrants Fleeing Violence
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) applauds Secretary Kerry’s announcement today regarding the expansion of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to help vulnerable families and individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Today’s announcement, like last year’s announcement of the Central American Minors (CAM) program, gives hope to refugees of legally finding safety in the U.S.
USCRI proposed both of these options as part of Six Solutions in the summer of 2014. A refugee processing program can offer a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are taking to escape violence and persecution in this humanitarian crisis. The high number of Central Americans fleeing their countries in all directions is indicative of a humanitarian problem, not an economic problem. This is a positive step while recognizing the crisis requires a comprehensive regional strategy that focuses on the root of the problem as well as the needs for protection and safety for vulnerable women and children fleeing for their lives.
“The only way this program will actually work is if it provides a safe alternative to come to the U.S. quickly, not one year or more down the road,” said Lavinia Limón, President/CEO of USCRI. “The CAM program has rescued only five children in its first year so a greater sense of urgency is needed.”
“As we turn our attention to the development of this program, we look forward to collaborating with the Administration and UNHCR to ensure refugee rights are protected including the right to work, to education and to freedom of movement. We look forward to assisting eligible Central Americans to begin new lives in freedom and peace.” said Limón.
USCRI has recognized the need for a broader approach through its years of work with unaccompanied children across the U.S. who await their immigration hearings and repatriated unaccompanied children at our office in El Salvador. This humanitarian crisis requires a strategy that includes; development, prioritization of human rights, refugee protection and U.S. assistance in strengthening the justice sector to address crime and violence.
USCRI has protected the rights and addressed the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide and supported their transition to dignified lives for over 100 years.