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Central American Minors Program Part of Sensible Regional Approach to Managing Borders and Migration

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Washington, DC – Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced steps to reinstate the Central American Minors Program. The program will allow young people in danger in Central America to apply for reunification with their parents who are living in the United States. The goal is to provide alternatives to children at risk. They can apply for lawful migration from the region and arrive in America with status and by airplane to join loved ones. Widening this legal channel means fewer young people will be compelled to take the dangerous journey to the southern border to apply for asylum. A pilot program was started under President Obama, and then was eliminated by President Trump to maximize the chaos and cruelty facing asylum seekers, especially children from Central America. 

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

As the Biden Administration works to put in place a workable and multilayered approach to forced migration from Central America, the restoration and expansion of the Central American Minors (CAM) program is a critical and welcome step. 

We have long argued that one of the keys to managing migration and our borders is to provide expanded legal pathways to those fleeing Central America. CAM offers a safe, expeditious and orderly way for young people to seek safety and apply for reunification with loved ones from the region. After vetting and approval, these young people will board airplanes and join family in America. This provides an alternative route to protection. 

There is much more the Biden Administration could and should be doing to protect migrants, provide legal avenues for migration, and strategically invest in regions where people are forced to migrate because of violence, oppression or other  factors. The federal government needs to end Title 42, reimagine and reconstitute our asylum system, continue to operationalize legal pathways for refugees, families and workers, and follow through on the root cause alleviation strategy being championed by Vice-President Harris. 

In addition, the administration should grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for those fleeing Central America by redesignating the program – not just extending it for current beneficiaries – for Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. This should include the designation of TPS for Guatemalans in the U.S. Besides many other benefits, doing this would enable many more parents in the U.S. to apply for reunification with their children. 

These expanded legal channels would make migration safe, humane and orderly, and act as investments in Central America to reduce the pressures that compel out-migration.