Obama May Bypass Congress to Grant Refugee Status for Hondurans

The Obama administration is considering a move that, according to Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, “would increase, not stem, the flood of migrants from Central America trying to get into the United States”.

“It’s clearly a bad idea,” Mr. Krikorian said. “Orders of magnitude more people will apply for refugee status if they can just do it from their home countries.” He added that the proposal would allow people to claim to be refugees from their countries with “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.”

The move may also fly in the face of the traditional legal definition of precisely who qualifies as a refugee.

The preliminary plan could create a thorny challenge for the administration because the definition of a refugee is legally specific, and children fleeing street gangs could have a hard time qualifying.

In effect, the plan would establiish a screening center in Honduras and allow for the direct transport of individuals into the U.S. if it were determined they qualified for refugee status.

… the Obama administration is considering whether to allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras into the United States without making the dangerous trek through Mexico, according to a draft of the proposal.

If approved, the plan would direct the government to screen thousands of children and youths in Honduras to see if they can enter the United States as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds. It would be the first American refugee effort in a nation reachable by land to the United States, the White House said, putting the violence in Honduras on the level of humanitarian emergencies in Haiti and Vietnam, where such programs have been conducted in the past amid war and major crises.

Critics of the plan were quick to pounce, saying it appeared to redefine the legal definition of a refugee and would only increase the flow of migration to the United States. Administration officials said they believed the plan could be enacted through executive action, without congressional approval, as long as it did not increase the total number of refugees coming into the country.

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