By Bill Frelick, Politico
August 13, 2014
The humanitarian crisis of undocumented Central American children may have faded from the headlines, but the problem has not gone away—not least because Congress failed to pass a bill addressing the issue before it left for the August recess. Both President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have floated proposals to process the kids in their home countries and admit a set number to the United States as refugees or with some other humanitarian status. Senator McCain also proposes to quickly deport child asylum seekers who arrive irregularly.
The White House pointed to in-country processing from Vietnam and Haiti in the 1980s and ‘90s as models. But Vietnam and Haiti, in fact, are models for how not to process refugees. These programs demonstrated how in-country processing can be a pretext for blocking access to asylum for people with immediate needs to flee persecution and who can’t wait in the orderly departure line or take the chance of returning to the country they fled. The programs turned basic refugee principles on their head.[...]
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