The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State are announcing changes to enhance the Central American Minors (CAM) program. These changes build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued efforts to provide alternatives to perilous and irregular migration to the border. The CAM program allows certain individuals in the United States to request access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for potential resettlement to the United States on behalf of their qualifying children in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The changes announced today via Federal Register Notice (FRN) expand access to the program and streamline certain processes, building upon President Biden’s Executive Order 14010, which sought to reinstitute and improve the CAM program.
“The Central American Minors program provides young, vulnerable children with a safe and orderly way to access humanitarian protection in the United States,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Through today’s expansion of this important program, we are strengthening lawful migration pathways so that individuals do not put their lives at risk in the hands of vicious smugglers.”
“The United States is committed to promoting safe and orderly migration in our hemisphere, as we and partners in the region made clear in the Los Angeles Declaration. Beyond the thousands of cases we have processed since its reopening in 2021, we remain committed to seeking new ways to improving lawful pathways like the Central American Minors Program,” said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
Enhancements announced today include the following for CAM applicants found ineligible for refugee resettlement and recommended for parole into the United States for other humanitarian reasons:
- CAM applicants who were interviewed between August 16, 2017, and January 31, 2018 who did not qualify for refugee status and were ineligible for parole consideration following the 2017 termination of the parole component of the CAM program will now be eligible to pursue parole.
- Financial supporters will be allowed to provide a sworn statement for those CAM program cases that require such evidence, rather than requiring applicants to complete the Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, as evidence of financial support.
On June 15, 2021, State and DHS re-opened the CAM program and expanded eligibility to file an Affidavit of Relationship to request access to the USRAP from U.S.-based parents to include legal guardians, as well as parents and legal guardians with pending asylum applications, or pending petitions for U nonimmigrant status filed prior to May 15, 2021. The cutoff date will now be extended to those who filed as of April 11, 2023. Further, eligibility now also extends to parents or legal guardians with pending T nonimmigrant status (T visa) applications filed on or before April 11, 2023.
The CAM program was established in 2014 to provide certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with qualifying lawfully present relatives in the United States to be admitted to the United States as refugees. Those who were determined to be ineligible for refugee status were considered on a case-by-case basis by USCIS for the possibility of entering the United States through parole. In August 2017, DHS terminated the parole component of the CAM program, and State stopped accepting new applications in November 2017. By the time CAM interviews ceased on January 31, 2018, nearly 1,800 CAM applicants had arrived in the United States as refugees, with another 1,450 as parolees.