How have things changed now that the civil wars in Central America are over?

Political asylum applications are even harder to push through now that the wars have officially ended.

In the United States, there remain about 300,000 refugees who applied for political asylum during the wars, and whose cases are still unresolved.

Under pre-1996 law, they can stay if they can prove that they have been in the United States a certain number of years and that leaving would be an extreme hardship.

New laws in 1996 placed heavier restrictions on that option, but champions of Central Americans want to give them special consideration. After all, their problems arose while their countries were at war over issues that affected the United States.

The irony is that many Central Americans left their homelands with great reluctance. They intended to go back home as soon as the danger had passed. But after a few years, they put down roots in the United States and started families. Going back is not as easy as they thought.

Central American governments have urged the United States to allow refugees to stay. Their fragile economies, shaken by years of war, could hardly stand to absorb a flood of returning exiles.

Also, the region’s economies depend on money that Central Americans earn in the United States and send back to families at home.