January 14th, 2016 (ICR News) Perhaps impressed with its recent handling of the Cuban migrant crisis, officials in the United States are eyeing Costa Rica as a possible location to establish UN refugee camps for those waiting to be screened for asylum in the US as part of a plan by the US to significantly expand its refugee program to those fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the New York Times reports.
As it has done in Turkey and Jordan for refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) would set up “processing centers” where migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras would be temporarily out of danger while being housed and screened for possible admission as refugees to the United States and possibly other countries.
Citing “people who were briefed on the plans,” the New York Times report says that Costa Rica as well as Belize and Mexico are under consideration as possible locations for the refugee centers.
“The migrants would stay in the temporary centers while the United Nations was reviewing them [sic], but it has not been decided if they would be in camps or some other, less restrictive shelters,” the Times said.
Tens of thousands of people would likely flow through the centers each year, and as many as 9,000 per year could eventually be resettled in the US, according to the report.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, announced on Wednesday that the US government plans to significantly expand its Refugee Admissions Program to include immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are fleeing violence in their homelands.
The goal is to provide Central American families a “safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers,” Kerry said in a speech at the National Defense University.