The caveat is that instead of embarking on a dangerous journey to the United States, these young people must attain refugee status within their own respective countries, and must have a qualifying lawfully present relative already present in the United States. Additionally, the number of youth eligible for the proposed program is limited to 4000 annually, given that the U.S. is only taking a maximum of 70,000 refugees in this fiscal year.
Thousands of Central Americans have arrived in the U.S. recently, seeking asylum and reunification with their families. Among the migrants in the past year were more than 66,000 unaccompanied minors. The U.S. is still grappling with how to deal with this matter and this small fix–while moving us in the right direction–appears to be too little, too late.
The Department of State has outlined that the program is open to “certain qualifying lawfully present relatives in the United States to file for unmarried children under 21 who are still residing in their home country and who are eligible to be admitted to the United States as refugees.”
This is a welcome start but it is certainly not a comprehensive plan for the resettlement of thousands of Central American mothers, fathers and children who are fleeing persecution in the home countries.
More details are forthcoming so watch this space for updates.