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U.S. considering refugee status for Honduran youth

White House officials said on Thursday that the Obama administration is contemplating giving minors from Honduras refugee status as a way to slow down the number of unaccompanied children making their way to the United States.

While no final decisions have been made and several ideas are still on the table, one proposal is to screen young people while they are still in Honduras to see if they qualify for refugee status, The Associated Press reports. This is similar to programs that took place in East Asia after the Vietnam War and in Haiti in the 1990s.

The United Nations has requested that the United States treat children coming to the U.S./Mexico border from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala as refugees displaced by armed conflict. The region is extremely dangerous, the U.N. says, with drug traffickers controlling large areas and street gangs running rampant.

Since Oct. 1, 2013, more than 16,000 Honduran children traveling alone have been caught or turned themselves in after crossing the Mexican border.