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Family Immigration

DHS and State Department Enhance Central American Minors Program to Expand Access and Streamline Processes

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State have announced significant changes to improve the Central American Minors (CAM) program. These updates aim to provide safer and more orderly migration options, aligning with the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to offer alternatives to dangerous and irregular border crossings. The CAM program enables eligible individuals in the United States to request access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for potential resettlement on behalf of their qualifying children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

To build upon President Biden’s Executive Order 14010, which sought to reinstate and improve the CAM program, the changes have been published via Federal Register Notice (FRN). The announced enhancements expand program access and streamline specific processes, prioritizing the protection of young and vulnerable children while offering lawful pathways for migration.

The key enhancements announced include the following for CAM applicants found ineligible for refugee resettlement but recommended for parole into the United States for humanitarian reasons:

CAM applicants interviewed between August 16, 2017, and January 31, 2018, who did not qualify for refugee status and were previously ineligible for parole consideration can now pursue parole.

Financial supporters can provide a sworn statement for CAM program cases requiring evidence of financial support, eliminating the need for applicants to complete Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support.

Additionally, on June 15, 2021, the CAM program was reopened, expanding eligibility for U.S.-based parents to file an Affidavit of Relationship to request access to the USRAP. The eligibility was extended to legal guardians, parents, and legal guardians with pending asylum applications or pending petitions for U nonimmigrant status filed before May 15, 2021. The cutoff date for eligibility has now been further extended to those who filed as of April 11, 2023. Furthermore, parents or legal guardians with pending T nonimmigrant status (T visa) applications filed on or before April 11, 2023, are now eligible.

Originally established in 2014, the CAM program aimed to admit certain minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with qualifying relatives in the United States as refugees. Those deemed ineligible for refugee status were individually considered for possible entry into the United States through parole. In 2017, the parole component of the CAM program was terminated by DHS, and new applications were no longer accepted by the State Department in November of that year. By January 31, 2018, when CAM interviews concluded, approximately 1,800 CAM applicants had arrived in the United States as refugees, with an additional 1,450 admitted under parole.

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