The Obama administration is planning to further expand the Refugee Admissions Program to bring more Central Americans to the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday.
Speaking at the National Defense University, according to The Washington Post, Kerry said that the increase would focus on migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Opening the refugee path to Central Americans, Kerry said, will “offer them a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits.”
In recent years a swell of migrants from those three countries have been detained illegally entering the U.S., many expecting to be allowed to stay.
Democrats and immigration activists have argued that the surge in illegal migration is due to violence and poverty in Central America that serve as “push” factors for the flow northward. Republicans meanwhile point to the administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies and executive amnesty as enticements for illegal immigration.
Nearly 300,000 unaccompanied minors and family units have been detained illegally entering the U.S. via the southern border since FY 2013. Recent months have seen the influx accelerate that much more.
The Obama administration’s move to open the refugee path to Central Americans comes as the administration has already expanded the number of refugees it plans to admit from 70,000 last fiscal year to 85,000 this fiscal year. The increase includes the controversial admission of a least 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Currently, the Obama administration is struggling to cope with the renewed influx of migrants at the border. This month the Department of Homeland Security moved to deport a small number — 121 — of recently arrived illegal immigrant families from Central America with final orders of deportation.
The action has resulted in an uproar of outrage from Democrats and activists claiming the raids are inappropriate. Conservatives and immigration hawks however have pointed out that the number of people targeted is minuscule number compared to overall border surge numbers.
According to The Post Kerry did not provide details on how many Central American refugees the administration plans to admit or when it would begin.