Refugee Resettlement from the Americas
- More than 6.1 million Venezuelans have been displaced in the Americas, and hundreds of thousands more people from other countries across Latin America and the Caribbean are also displaced.
- The United States is committed to resettle 20,000 refugees from the Americas over the next two years. This commitment represents a three-fold increase over projected arrivals 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 beginning in FY 2018 through early June 2022 and expects to resettle an additional 1,800 refugees by the end of FY2022.
- In FY 2022, the Department contributed additional funding to UNHCR for staffing infrastructure in the Americas to increase referrals. It has expanded caseworker staffing at the U.S. Resettlement Support Center for Latin America by more than 300 percent in the last 12 months, and will continue to prioritize cases in the region each quarter for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refugee interviews.
Increased Resettlement of Haitian Refugees
- Reflecting the President’s commitment to support the people of Haiti, the United States also commits to receiving an increased number of referrals of displaced Haitians into the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
- The USRAP accepts referrals for individuals across refugee populations determined to be particularly vulnerable and in need of the protection provided by third-country resettlement. The United States will continue to work with UNHCR to increase referrals throughout the Americas and the Caribbean to the USRAP. The United States encourages other governments to join us in opening new legal pathways for protection and opportunities for Haitians and other displaced populations in the Americas.
Ongoing Resettlement Efforts in the Americas
- UNHCR refers individuals with compelling protection needs who are identified by designated non-governmental organizations in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala for potential resettlement in the United States through the USRAP. The most at-risk of these applicants may be transferred to Costa Rica via a Protection Transfer Arrangement between UNHCR, IOM, and the Government of Costa Rica. Individuals and families referred to Costa Rica through this mechanism are housed at a facility connected to the United Nation’s University of Peace (located outside San Jose). There, they await final refugee processing by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applicants who are not transferred to Costa Rica can undergo USRAP processing in Northern Central American countries.
- Since 2016, nearly 2,500 refugees from Northern Central America have been resettled in 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 cases for referrals among displaced Colombians in Ecuador, resulting in more than 1,600 arrivals to date.
- In the past year, UNHCR’s focus throughout the region has grown to include expanded referrals of Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians across another seven countries throughout Latin American 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 Minors Program
- In March 2021, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced the reopening of the Central American Minors (CAM) program, which from 2014 – 2018 allowed certain parents with pre-defined categories of lawful presence in the United States to petition on behalf of their children for access to USRAP processing for potential refugee resettlement in the United States while still in their home country of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. Individuals denied refugee status could, on a case-by-case basis, be considered for humanitarian parole.
- The CAM restart has included two phases. Phase One reopened many of the more than 3,000 cases that were closed prior to the refugee interview stage when the program was terminated in 2018. Phase Two expanded the categories of eligibility to file new applications beginning in September 2021.
- Since the 2021 reopening, 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 nearly 5,000 arrivals of CAM refugees and parolees welcomed during the initial iteration of the program.