Migrants on a Tijuana sidewalk Migrants in Tijuana. zeta tijuana/Jorge Dueñes

Refugees are still humanitarian crisis

More countries should be encouraged to temporarily host Central American refugees

The Central American refugee crisis of unaccompanied children is still with us. This year, an estimated 80,000 people from Central America, mostly children and families, are expected to apply for asylum in the U.S., a 658% increase since 2011.


In spite of massive repatriations and an aggressive media campaign to discourage migration, the U.S. still faces an urgent humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. should work in collaboration with its allies in the region to provide temporary hosting to Central American migrants. Through shared responsibility we can address this humanitarian crisis effectively.

We should expand the number of countries willing to accept eligible families to be hosted temporarily. Costa Rica already hosts up to 200 eligible people for periods of six months – and more countries should follow its shining example.

In addition, we can extend the current security screening program supervised by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Some possible partners to host eligible families include Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. They should accept up to 3,000 refugees each.

The U.S. can encourage them through leading by example, expanding its Central American minors program to 9,000. Security screening should be performed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in partner countries in collaboration with the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).


This proposal is clearly beneficial both to the region and to the United States. This temporary hosting program provides time for migrants to pass a security screening process outside their homelands in a safe location, and deters them from a risky journey to the U.S. border. For the United States, it reduces expenses in repatriations, and enhances shared responsibility.

Second, the program will reduce backlogs and costs associated with long detentions of refugee applicants.  This proposal expands the capacity of Homeland Security to address the large number of people who may have legitimate refugee claims, by having more security screening units outside the U.S. and more staff from UNHCR.

Third, security screening becomes a more effective process because it has access to more and better information, as well as resources and technical support from UNHCR and other countries in the region for its implementation.

The debate during the U.S. election campaign fueled arguments about whether to welcome migrants fleeing violence or to build a wall to keep them out. Some will see the temporary hosting program as an invitation for Central Americans to seek asylum.

But let’s be clear here: we have already repatriated thousands of people and, in joint collaboration with Mexico, increased control of the border between Mexico and Guatemala.

Building a wall will not stop migrants to take a risky journey to the U.S border. Collaborating with our allies in the region in a screening security program brings better, more creative and more effective use of our resources to address a humanitarian crisis.

Some will see temporary hosting of refugee applicants in the region as failing to provide a permanent solution. True, but we should not let a desire for the perfect get in the way of what’s possible.

This temporary hosting proposal offers the most efficient and practical way to address an ongoing humanitarian emergency. We should embrace it, even as we look to longer-term solutions.

We can do more to address the Central American refugee crisis. With shared responsibility, the United States and its allies in the region can provide temporary hosting to Central American migrants to address this urgent humanitarian need.

A future of hope and integration for our region demands collaboration and a humanitarian perspective. A future of hope for our societies in the Americas demands shared responsibility.

Let us not forget that together we are more effective, and together we are stronger.

The writer is a student of public policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and has worked for the Mexican government at the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and in the office of the president.

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  • Henry Wilson

    lol! yeah…sure…good luck with that one.

  • Güerito

    “Stronger Together”

    Hmmm. Where have I heard that before?

  • refugeesillegalsgohome

    There is no wars in central America. Send these leeches HOME. Dead or alive your choice.

  • kallen

    Why do we [collectively] keep ignoring the fact that the world is overpopulated? Immigration is a symptom of that overpopulation; start treating the cause (w/ birth control) not the symptoms (immigration).

    Resources are finite and we can’t keep acting in a “business as usual” way just because we accepted immigrants in the past. It’s time we recognized that we’re coming up against some hard limits and self-preservation demands that we respect the resource limitations of our respective countries (US and Mexico).

    The writer is clearly a millennial Bernie type. Until she gets some real world experience holding a job, supporting a family and paying taxes, I don’t want to hear her bubble induced babble. For a good laugh watch SNL’s bubble skit – it proves the point perfectly.

  • “Migration”? Not colonization per the MxGovernment’s widespread so-called ESL course “Sigame”? You are trying to have that government, and the Central American Governments which took the MxGovernment’s lead, look good by knowingly asking the ludicrous. Why not Central American governments, and, indeed, Mexico’s not “host” their deliberately mislabeled “refugees”? They are their nationals after all. But —hey?– since when do humans have even the right not to be migrated by those pathetic governments?

  • edlorens

    The author sounds very young, inexperienced with no knowledge of the history or ability to project the future. The constant refugees, migration this and that start acting on my nerves. It is nothing but orchestrated GLOBALIST like SOROS scheme. They create events like in Syria or take advantage of natural disasters to push people to move. The BORDER SHOULD BE CLOSED. THAT’S WHY WE VOTED TRUMP. THE MAIN FIGHT IS AGAINST GLOBALIZATION or America is no longer going to be America.We need to preserve our own integrity and national identity. Protect our freedoms and our own life style and values. We are not a shelter. Unattended children are the most expensive to take care off. I understand sharing technologies, meds, building schools but NOT TAKING PEOPLE IN. NOT GRANTING ASYLUM. It’s drining us, extremely difficult to get rid off/ send back. Let them learn, adapt, change hopefully prosper but no migration, no asylum. I prefer latinos, then Muslim. Latinos adapt and I like them. But allowing illegals in is not right venue. Never end. after one reason there would be another. Expect soon 200 million people on the move claiming climate change. Let them adapt to the climate change. The exception could be students or the one that have secured work like on farm. Otherwise the only refugees, migrants I would take is Christians, Yazidis from Muslims countries like Syria. These people are being tortured and killed for their faith. We are the Christian nation, they would integrate and no terrorism threat.The author of this article is very much out of touch with reality. we want to deport and she is talking about bringing more. We need jobs for our own. Please,stop using worn out, stupid slogans ” together we are stronger”??? That is in the same category as another progressives lie “diversity is our strength!” Some ethnicity is likable but diversity is our weakness. It divide us and it is a source of lot of problems. Please, stop dreaming,forget ideologies and take a long practical approach. Find new venue for your altruism. Beside, why would you advocate bringing migrants when it is 6 times cheaper to shelter in refugees camp then to brin