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Obama’s Central American Refugee Program Is A Dangerous Fraud

Just in time for the peak season for migration to the United States, President Obama appears to be pushing his recently formed in-country refugee/parole program for Central American children.

The program is a fraud.

At the same time the administration is claiming that the program is “necessary to prevent children from risking their lives to cross the border and protect them from exploitation by smuggling networks”, it is working hard with the Mexican government to deport children caught in Mexico en masse back to harm in Central American

In 2014, Mexico deported 18,000 Central American children back to their native countries, a 55 % increase from the 8,350 deported in 2013, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (“WOLA”),

In January of 2015, President Obama applauded Mexico’s efforts, stating that:

“I very much appreciate Mexico’s efforts in addressing the unaccompanied children who we saw spiking during the summer. In part because of strong efforts by Mexico, including at its southern border, we’ve seen those numbers reduced back to much more manageable levels.”

In other words, the United States’ principal solution to prevent children from Central America from making the dangerous trip to to the United States is to make it even more dangerous through aggressive interdiction and deportation.

The Obama administration is using the Mexican government as a proxy to circumvent U.S. law so that it can advance its political agenda to not appear soft on illegal immigration. Worse, Obama is trying to muddy the waters by falsely asserting that the new in-country program will have a significant impact on ensuring the safety of children who desperately need to escape to the safety of the United States.

The maximum amount of children who will be allowed into the United States as refugees or as parolees is 4000 per year. How ironic that some of the children who request refugee status in-country will also have been deported from Mexico in the past.

Worse, the program has been 100 percent useless thus far. Although the State Department began accepting applications starting in December of 2014, not one child has been admitted to the United States to date.

The complete and utter failure of the program to address migration of children to the United States in 2015 and beyond was by design. In a November 2014 announcement detailing the procedures on how to apply, the State Department admitted only a small number of children would be admitted in FY 2015 because of how long the refugee process takes.

If the U.S. government was really concerned about the safety of children in the war-zones of Central America, it would have implemented an expedited parole system in which children are able to escape immediately. Instead, rigorous anti-fraud measures are taking precedence, such as DNA testing to ensure that the child really does have a biological parent living in the United States.

Even more disturbing is that the enhanced deportation efforts of Mexico have made the already-dangerous trip through Mexico even more dangerous.

WOLA reports that migrants are now less visible and further away from the few human rights activists in Mexico who provide support and protection from the criminals who prey upon the migrants.

Additionally, there are “concerns that enforcement operations are taking place with little regard for due process, that soldiers are participating in the operations, and that agents have used violence to detain migrants.”

Bill Frelick of Human Rights First said it best in an interview with NPR, stating that the program “is a pretext for denying asylum to those people who arrive irregularly. It’s a pretext for preventing them from leaving Honduras or El Salvador in the first place. It’s a pretext for interdicting them in Mexico and pushing them back with the idea that, oh, you know, there’s this legal mechanism here.”

What was the State Department officials response to Mr. Frelick’s concern that the program does not protect virtually any Central American children who face imminent harm or death in El Salvador or Honduras?

Even if a child is certain or likely to be killed, raped, or harmed in their home country,  the State Department official, Simon Henshaw, said: “Nothing is more dangerous than taking that illegal trip through Mexico – nothing.”

Tell that to our clients who have almost been killed in their country. Tell that to our clients that have been raped or sexually abused. Tell that to our clients who have witnessed multiple homicides in their country yet were not harmed at all on their trip through Mexico. 

Tell that to 13-year-old girl that was found strangled to death with signs of torture in March of this year in Honduras.

Tell that to 31 victims in El Salvador who were murdered just this past weekend, including a children of 16, 13, and 12 years old who were shot to death in El Salvador.

Tell that to the 148 Guatemalan children who were murdered in the first 2 months of 2015.

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