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Expansion of Central American Minors Program A Critical Component of a Workable Regional Strategy

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“This is exactly what America should be doing.”


Today, the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement announcing the expansion of the Central American Minors (CAM) program. This program allows people in the United States to petition as sponsors for refugee minors in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. 

The purpose of the program is to allow minors to apply for rescue and resettlement in the region, without having to make the dangerous journey across Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border. The program was established as a pilot program under President Obama. It was shut down by President Trump as part of his effort to gut asylum protections and refugee resettlement. The Biden administration restarted the program earlier this year. 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

This is exactly what America should be doing. The Biden-Harris administration is significantly expanding a life-saving program for kids fleeing violence. Expanding legal migration pathways from the region is an integral component of a workable regional strategy. 

The goal of that regional strategy is to achieve durable solutions with respect to forced migration from Central America. This is a challenge that has vexed administrations from both parties for more than four decades. The regional strategy has two main prongs: 1) manage migration and protect refugees with policies and practices that make the migration process safe, humane and orderly – from the region and at our southern border; and 2) launch a serious and sustained root cause strategy that addresses the reasons people are compelled to leave their countries in the first place.

The expansion of CAM is a significant part of the drive to expand legal migration pathways from the region. It will allow kids fleeing violence to apply for rescue and resettlement nearer to where they live, rather than having to make the dangerous journey to our southern border. Those who qualify will arrive in America on airplanes and with a secure immigration status to join loving families who will care for them.

In contrast to Republicans who are politicizing and weaponizing forced migration from Central America in order to exploit racism and xenophobia in the 2022 midterm campaign, the Biden-Harris administration is taking concrete steps to rescue children in danger, facilitate humane and orderly migration, and turn the page on the unmatched cruelty and chaos of the Trump years. 

This is a very important step and a very encouraging sign.