WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is summoning Central American leaders to the White House to discuss the influx of young immigrants from their countries to the U.S., hoping to show presidential action even as Congress remains deeply split over proposals to stem the crisis on the border.
The meeting comes as the administration is considering creating a pilot program giving refugee status to young people from Honduras, White House officials said Thursday. The plan would involve screening youths in their home country to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. The program would be limited and would start in Honduras but could be expanded to include other Central American countries.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, speaking Thursday in Washington, said he hadn't heard about the plan but expected it to come up Friday. He said Central American nations have sought to pursue a unified approach. "We expect that the solution to this problem also is equal for the three countries," he said.
Besides Molina, Obama was to host Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren on Friday, the day after they met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are considering Obama's requests for emergency funds and additional authority to send unaccompanied children back to their home countries more quickly. Those lawmakers appear unlikely to resolve their differences on either front before leaving Washington late next week for their annual August recess.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.