Officials at the United Nations are urging for many of the immigrants fleeing to the United States from Central America to be treated as refugees who have been displaced by armed conflict. This designation is intended to increase the pressure on the United States to accept tens of thousands of individuals who are currently not eligible for asylum.
Officials at the UN High Commissioner for Refugee want to see a regional agreement with regard to this status when US migration and interior department representatives meet with those from Central America and Mexico in Nicaragua tomorrow. The group will be discussing the possibility of updating a declaration from 30 years ago about the obligation that countries have to offer aid to refugees.
“The US and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries but rather receive international protection,” the agency says, while admitting that any such resolution would not carry legal weight within the United States.
The great majority of people seen as refugees by the international community are those fleeing ethnic or political conflicts, such as those in the Sudan or Syria. It would be a first to consider Central American immigrants as refugees, as they are escaping from extortion and violence carried out by criminal gangs.
“They are leaving for some reason,” points out the UN refugee agency’s regional representative, Fernando Protti. “Let’s not send them back in a mechanical way but rather evaluate the reasons they left the country.”