Hillary Clinton supports creating a refugee screening process for Central American children in their home countries to allow more to come the U.S legally, and prevent them from undertaking the dangerous trek north.
“If we don’t have a procedure, it’s not going to stop, more kids are going to come,” Clinton told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Friday.
President Obama is reportedly considering such a plan in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to stem the flow of minors crossing into the U.S. without authorization.
More than 57,000 children traveling without a parent or guardian have been apprehended by Border Patrol since October 1, 2013. The poorest child migrants venture through Mexico on a dangerous freight train, known as “la bestia,” or “the beast.”
Clinton, who served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, said that screening applicants for refugee status in their home countries would allow U.S. officials to evaluate a child’s case “before they get in the hands of coyotes, or they get on the beast, or they are raped.”
But screening for refugee applicants may not be enough. The U.S. government plans to accept only 70,000 refugees worldwide this year. Of those, a mere 5,000 slots are designated for people from Latin America and the Caribbean.
There’s also the question of whether people fleeing gang violence — even if they are children — will meet the criteria for refugee status. To qualify as a refugee, one must demonstrate fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
Speaking with Ramos, Clinton also reiterated her conviction that not all children who come to the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay, saying that “some of them should be sent back.”
“But, who would you deport?” Ramos asked.
“Whoever was in the category of where they don’t have legitimate claim for asylum, where they don’t have some kind of family connection, those children should be returned to their families and the families should be told that they should not be sending these young children on their own to face the dangers that exist on that travel,” she said.
Clinton acknowledged that, in some cases, a child’s deportation could bring them great harm. “There may be some kids who definitely would face terrible danger if they returned,” she said
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