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Highlights

GAO discussed conditions in Central America which have resulted in refugees seeking asylum in the United States. GAO found that: (1) widespread poverty, economic crises, and armed conflicts have caused a significant number of refugees from Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala; (2) since 1980, over 1.7 million Central Americans have left their countries, and about 1.2 million have entered the United States and Canada; (3) the primary countries of first asylum or initial refuge are Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico; (4) the majority of Central Americans applying for asylum in the United States are from Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras; (5) as of August 1988, about 120,000 refugees were registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to receive temporary shelter, food, health and other humanitarian services; and (6) the Immigration and Naturalization Service reported that Central American asylum requests have increased from about 7,000 in 1985 to over 50,000 in 1988.

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