President Obama Meeting with Central American Presidents

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Dallas Morning News:

President Obama ended his remarks after about 4 minutes but then, after standing and shaking hands with the three visiting presidents, and as the pool was being told to depart, he agreed to take a shouted question about the refugee policy trial balloon. (Bill Plante and someone else tossed similar questions.)


Obama said he wasn’t going to take questions, but “some of the stories were a little over cranked. As I explained to my fellow presidents, under US law, we admit a certain number of refugees from all around the world based on some fairly narrow criteria. Typically refugee status is not granted just on economic need or because a family lives in a bad neighborhood or poverty. It’s typically defined fairly narrowly.” For instance, he said, if a political activist is being persecuted.


“There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for. If that were the case it would be better for them to apply in-country rather than take a very dangerous journey up to Texas to make those same claims. But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number of additional migrants.”


More important, he said, is to find solutions “that prevent smugglers from making money on families that feel desperate,” and that make a dent in poverty in Central America, and that improve the US legal immigration system in a way that “makes this underground migration system less necessary.”


The other presidents had no speaking role with pool present. Obama brushed off a follow-up from Jeff Mason about funding and the pool was escorted out.

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