U.S. refugee program slower and fewer than promised

The Obama administration plan to put 200 or more youngsters from El Salvador in temporary quarters in Costa Rica is unusual and substantially less than what had been announced earlier.

U.S. news sources say that Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís will be going to Washington, D.C., later this month, to iron out details of the program. The report, which was not confirmed by the White House or Casa Presidencial yet, involves a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden.

The U.S. plan is to put the 200 youngsters in Costa Rica while their refugee claims are checked out as well as their own backgrounds.

Each is supposed to be under 21 and have at least one parent living legally in the United States to apply for refugee status. There also is the possibility that other members of the family might also get permission to move to the United States.

Costa Rica already has a serious immigrant problem with Haitians, Africans, Middle Easterners and Cubans entering the country through the porous southern border. Most manage to find a way north even though Nicaragua has closed its border. There is massive illegal human trafficking, in some cases promoted by some officials.

Casa Presidencial has not said exactly where the 200 El Salvadoran youngsters will be housed or who is paying for the project. The U.S. Embassy here has been equally mum. Also unclear is the legal authority Solís has to do this.

Barack Obama has about $70 million that has been allocated to resettling refugees, according to Washington sources. The bulk will be going to Syrian refugees, but the administration eventually plans to settle at least 3,000 Central Americans in the United States.

The programs are not without critics. Some blame Obama for not doing enough to ease the Central American migrant crisis. They call the situation a humanitarian crisis. Thousands are trying to enter the United States, and there have been many deportations.

Others who oppose the plans say that the administration is doing its best to import future Democratic voters. About 10,000 persons have applied for the refugee resettlement from Central America.

The United States has been blamed for gang violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala because it has deported many young criminals that had been living illegally in the States.

But there also is some question as to the motivation of the illegal migrants. Many are seeking better economic opportunities instead of fleeing violence.

Official statistics say that there are at least 11.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States, but some less public estimates say the number could be as many as 35 million.

The Central American resettlement plans have not yet become a factor in the U.S. presidential campaigns. Donald Trump has said he wants a wall to be built to keep out illegal immigrants. Vast stretches of the U.S. southern border can be crossed on foot, but the trip is fraught with danger.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, is expected to support the Obama administration plans if she is elected.

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