There is a limit on the number of foreign individuals allowed to apply for refugee relief and resettlement assistance in the U.S. under special humanitarian concern. Last week President Obama reduced the limit for Central American refugees, despite the recent increase in arrivals from the Central American countries where crime and gang violence drove more than 60,000 families from their homes; the overall refugee admissions limit for fiscal year 2015 is the same as 2014, at 70,000. President Obama announced his interest in new programs for asylum seekers. In connection therewith, the allotment for people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is 4,000 down from the allotment of 5,000 for the current fiscal year.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) website contains general information about refugee and asylum status. The current allotment reduction for Central Americans concerns refugee status, defined by USCIS as, “A form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm.[i]”
The serious harm people often fear is that they will be or have been persecuted for reasons of t heir political opinion, membership in certain groups, sex, nationality, race and origin, to name a few. A variety of factors contributes to the balance of serious harm to people and humanitarian factors. Often major events, including weather catastrophes like a tsunami causing massive destruction can influence the allotments of admission to the refugee relief programs.
Here is a list of the new allotments[ii]:
- Africa 17,000
- East Asia 13,000
- Europe and Central Asia 1,000
- Latin America and Caribbean 4,000
- Near East and South Asia 33,000
- Unallocated Reserve 2,000
The new programs President Obama wants would allow eligible people to apply for refugee status from other countries before they arrive on U.S. soil. Specifically, the programs the president wants developed would allow Central Americans to apply for refugee status from within their own countries.[iii] In Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, people could benefit from a program that would give them greater security when seeking to apply for immigration relief, rather than risk detention for unlawful presence and experiencing rough conditions in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security residential facilities for undocumented immigrants arriving on U.S. soil.
There are several options President Obama may have in ordering the establishment of a refugee program of this kind and Chicago immigration attorney KiKi M. Mosley will follow the progress of this type of immigration reform effort to keep clients and colleagues up to date as the Obama administration works towards solving problems in the broken U.S. immigration system.
Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including and related options for undocumented immigrants seeking immigration relief. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.
[ii] The White House Office of the Press Secretary: Presidential Memorandum – – FY 2015 Refugee Admissions
[iii] Immigration Impact, Proposed Refugee Program Limited in Central American Impact, by Amy Grenier, Oct. 3, 2014.