National Security

Biden expanding program for allowing young Central Americans into US

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The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it is expanding eligibility for a federal program that gives minors from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala a pathway to legal resettlement in the United States.

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are launching the second phase of the Central American Minors (CAM) program, saying that U.S.-based legal guardians and parents of children from these three countries — known as the Northern Triangle — can now petition for resettlement in America. 

The program was restarted by the Biden administration in March, with the first phase focused on working through thousands of applications and cases that were suspended when the program was terminated under the Trump administration in November 2017. 

“We are firmly committed to welcoming people to the United States with humanity and respect, as well as providing a legal alternative to irregular migration,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a joint statement.

“We are delivering on our promise to promote safe, orderly, and humane migration from Central America through this expansion of legal pathways to seek humanitarian protection in the United States,” they added.

The second phase of CAM is expanding eligibility for children to apply for resettlement in the U.S. if they have a legal guardian who is a lawful resident in the U.S.

This includes lawful permanent residence, temporary protected status, parole, deferred action, deferred enforced departure or withholding of removal, according to a joint statement released by State and DHS. 

Certain U.S.-based parents or legal guardians who filed an asylum application or a U visa — a nonimmigrant temporary residency — petition before May 15, 2021, are also eligible for the CAM program. 

The expansion of eligibility is expected to allow tens of thousands of U.S.-based individuals to petition for children’s access to U.S. refugee programs through CAM, State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday. 

When restarting the CAM program in March, Porter said, the government identified 3,162 pending cases and those representing 3,828 individuals. They have so far reopened 1,100 of those cases. 

The Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador represent the majority of illegal and irregular migration to the U.S. border with Mexico. 

President Biden has committed to increasing the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. alongside efforts to address the root causes of migration from Central America, tasking Vice President Harris with leading the effort.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Antony Blinken border security DHS Immigration Joe Biden State Department

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