Carol Morello, Washington Post, January 13, 2016
The United States will increase the number of refugees it admits to allow in more people fleeing violence in Central America, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday.
In a speech at the National Defense University, Kerry said the expansion of the Refugee Admissions Program will be directed toward people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, to “offer them a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently tempted to begin, making them easy prey for human smugglers who have no interest but their own profits.”
The United States already plans to admit 85,000 refugees from around the world in the fiscal year that began in October, but only 3,000 spaces are set aside for Central Americans. The total allotment is 15,000 more refugees than in the previous year, and includes 10,000 Syrians referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees under a special vetting process that typically takes 18 to 24 months. The ceiling for refugees is even higher for 2017, when it will rise to 100,000.
Kerry did not say how many more Central American refugees would be admitted and when the expansion would take effect.