The Slatest

Obama Considers Refugee Plan That Would Likely Only Cover Tiny Portion of Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants in McAllen, Texas.

REUTERS/ Rick Loomis/Pool

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is considering a program that would allow Honduran youths into the United States “as refugees or on emergency humanitarian grounds” because of violent conditions in the Central American country—but would only cover an estimated 1,750 individuals in two years. That number would likely not accomodate even a tenth of the minors trying to leave Honduras, let alone El Salvador and Guatemala, its recent partners in mass emigration, over the time period:


The proposal, prepared by several federal agencies, says the pilot program under consideration would cost up to $47 million over two years, assuming 5,000 applied and about 1,750 people were accepted. If successful, it would be adopted in Guatemala and El Salvador as well.

It is unclear how the administration determined those estimates, given that since Oct. 1 more than 16,500 unaccompanied children traveled to the United States from Honduras alone.

In total, approximately 45,000 minors from the three Central American countries have arrived in the U.S. in the last ten months, the Times says.

Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have proposed increasing each of those countries’ annual refugee visa quotas by 5,000 alongside other reforms that would speed the deportation of individuals caught immigrating without documents. (It doesn’t appear, however, that McCain and Flake’s proposal would prevent undocumented immigrants from seeking asylum once here.)