United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central American children and families crossing the border to be treated as refugees fleeing armed conflict. While this would lack legal weight in the U.S., officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hope this will increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept thousands of immigrants not currently eligible for asylum.
On Thursday migration and interior department representatives from the U.S., Mexico, and Central America will meet in Nicaragua. The group will discuss updating a 30-year-old declaration on the obligations nations have to aid refugees.
Central Americans would be among the first modern migrants considered refugees for fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs. Honduras has the world's highest homicide rate for a nation not at war. In El Salvador, the end of a truce between street gangs has led to a sharp rise in homicides. Violence spread in recent decades after members of California street gangs were deported to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where they overwhelmed weak and corrupt police forces.
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--The Associated Press
First published July 8 2014, 6:59 AM