Some in Congress Call for Refugee Status for Central American Kids

By:  Warren Mass
06/30/2014
       
Some in Congress Call for Refugee Status for Central American Kids

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other members of Congress have called on the Obama administration to create an emergency refugee program that they assert would solve the crisis resulting from the massive surge of child immigrants coming to the United States from Central America.

McCain told Reuters on June 26 that establishing refugee application programs in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, where domestic abuse, gang violence, and poverty are overwhelming, is the “key” to defusing the exploding border crisis.

If such a plan were implemented, children could go to U.S. embassy offices in their own countries and apply for refugee status. If such status were granted, they could legally emigrate to the United States. It has not been discussed who would be responsible for supporting them once they arrived, or if U.S. government funding would be supplied to assist them.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — who, along with McCain, was a member of the Senate’s bipartisan Gang of Eight that drafted a controversial “immigration reform” bill that included a “path to citizenship,” or amnesty, for illegal immigrants — is also considering the idea of an emergency program. “We’d be able to make a more intelligent decision about what’s legitimate and you wouldn’t have the problem of people showing up, dropped off at the door,” Graham told Reuters. “That makes sense to me.”

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on a House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, told Reuters that she was “surprised” that a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee approached her last week asking to talk about establishing a refugee program for children from the three Central American countries.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), when asked about a refugee assistance program, replied: “I wouldn’t do that.” “The more they come, the more will come. There will be hundreds of thousands,” added Shelby, who has been a vocal critic of so-called immigration reform that amounts to amnesty.

As quoted by the online Daily Caller, Jessica Vaughan, of the Center for Immigration Studies, declared, “Creating a new ‘refugee’ program would only exacerbate the problem and inspire even more families and kids to abandon their homes for a free pass to live in America.”

“Such a response also would make a mockery of our legitimate refugee program intended to aid those who are persecuted, and would strain its resources unnecessarily,” Vaughan said, noting that the Obama administration should instead focus their efforts on reuniting the youthful immigrants with their families back home.

Vaughan continued: “Instead of looking for ways to whitewash this self-inflicted policy disaster by characterizing it as a humanitarian crisis, the lawmakers who favor mass migration should concede that their talk of amnesty and neglect of enforcement were a mistake, and work to reverse the damage.”

This latest overture from McCain represents a departure from the relatively stronger recommendation he and Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake (also a Gang of Eight member), made in a June 11 letter to President Obama:

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Photo of Honduran migrant and her child: AP Images

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