As Obama unveils program, other efforts aim to help Central Americans

by Patricia Zapor  |  published on November 21, 2014

As millions of immigrants celebrate the possibility of protection from deportation under a new Obama administration plan, among those who cannot take advantage of it will be the 68,445 families and 68,541 unaccompanied minors who were apprehended at the border in the last fiscal year.

The children and families, most from Central America, drew international attention last summer as their numbers overwhelmed governmental and private agencies that process their legal cases, and provide housing, social services and foster care. The record-setting number of apprehensions has declined significantly because of efforts on both ends of the migrant pipeline. And steps are being taken to address problems in their home countries that cause people to leave.

Not an option for them, however, will be the program unveiled by President Barack Obama Nov. 20. It will apply only to long-term residents of the United States, estimated at something under half of the 11 million people in the U.S. without legal immigration status.

A week before Obama’s announcement, Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador about how to tackle the situations affecting people in their countries. In a program at the Inter-American Development Bank, Biden and the Central American presidents talked about ways to address economic, social, governance and security conditions that contribute to people’s decisions to leave for other countries.

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