Resettlement of refugees from the Americas
- More than 6.1 million Venezuelans have been displaced in the Americas, and hundreds of thousands more people from other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are also displaced.
- The United States has pledged to resettle 20,000 refugees from the Americas over the next two years. This commitment represents a three-fold increase in expected arrivals for this fiscal year and reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s strong commitment to welcoming refugees.
- The United States admitted more than 5,300 refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean region between fiscal year 2018 and early June 2022 and plans to resettle an additional 1,800 refugees by the end of fiscal year 2022.
- In fiscal year 2022, the Department provided additional funds to UNHCR for staffing infrastructure in the Americas to increase referrals. He has increased case staff at the U.S. Resettlement Support Center for Latin America by more than 300% over the past 12 months and will continue to prioritize cases in the region each quarter for interview with refugees from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Increase in resettlement of Haitian refugees
Reflecting the President’s commitment to supporting the people of Haiti, the United States is also committed to receiving an increased number of referrals of displaced Haitians to the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
USRAP accepts removals for individuals among refugee populations determined to be particularly vulnerable and in need of the protection provided by resettlement to a third country. The United States will continue to work with UNHCR to increase referrals across the Americas and the Caribbean to USRAP. The United States encourages other governments to join us in opening new legal avenues of protection and opportunity for Haitians and other displaced populations in the Americas.
Ongoing Resettlement Efforts in the Americas
UNHCR refers people with core protection needs who are identified by designated non-governmental organizations in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala for possible resettlement to the United States through USRAP. Most-at-risk applicants may be transferred to Costa Rica through a Protection Transfer Agreement between UNHCR, IOM and the Government of Costa Rica. Individuals and families referred to Costa Rica through this mechanism are housed in a facility connected to the United Nations University of Peace (located outside of San José). There, they await final refugee status processing by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security. Applicants who do not transfer to Costa Rica may undergo USRAP processing in northern Central American countries.
Since 2016, nearly 2,500 refugees from northern Central America have been resettled to the United States through these lifesaving mechanisms for at-risk Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans in need of protection. In South America, during the same period, UNHCR has historically identified referral cases among displaced Colombians in Ecuador, resulting in over 1,600 arrivals to date.
Over the past year, UNHCR’s attention across the region has expanded to include expanded returns of Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Haitians to seven other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. As USRAP partners continue to increase staff capacity, the number of referrals and arrivals throughout the region will increase significantly.
Central American Miners Program
In March 2021, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced the reopening of the Central American Minors Program (CAM), which from 2014 to 2018 allowed certain parents with predefined categories of legal presence in the United States- United to petition on behalf of their children for access to USRAP processing for possible resettlement of refugees to the United States while still in their home country of El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. People who have been denied refugee status may, on a case-by-case basis, be considered for humanitarian parole.
The restart of the CAM included two phases. The first phase reopened one of more than 3,000 cases that had been closed prior to the refugee interview stage when the program ended in 2018. The second phase expanded eligibility categories to file new requests from September 2021.
Since reopening in 2021, the United States has admitted more than 130 CAM applicants as refugees. More than 60 CAM applicants have been granted humanitarian parole to join family members in the United States. This is in addition to the approximately 5,000 arrivals of CAM refugees and parolees welcomed during the first iteration of the program.