tags: , , Press Releases

Refugee Resettlement Experts, Faith Leader, and Impacted Father Decry Trump Administration Placing 7,000 Central American Children in Danger

Share This:

Urge Administration to Keep Promise to Children Fleeing Violence and Process Pending Applications

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Today, immigrants’ rights leaders, refugee resettlement advocates, regional experts, and individuals impacted by the Central American Minors (CAM) program expressed their grave concern and opposition to the termination of the life-saving CAM program. The CAM program provided over 3,000 vulnerable Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan children an opportunity to find safety and reunite with their parents in the United States. Recently, the administration announced it would stop interviewing kids who were already in the application process on January 31, 2018. That means that the vast majority of the nearly 7,000 kids who have already applied for protection won’t that chance to reunify with their families. A recording of today’s call is available here. 

Anna Greene, Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee, said:

Our organizations have already denounced the cruel and entirely gratuitous termination of the Central American Minors program, part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions program. Today we must raise the alarm bells and point out the consequences for almost 7,000 children, whose lives will be at risk if this program is terminated so quickly. The way this program is being terminated, leaving thousands of children stranded, breaks with any notion of a moral compass. Children have placed their trust in the United States government, and DHS must keep their promise and ensure that all children who have already applied receive an interview and a fair process.

Ruben Chandrasekar, Executive Director (Baltimore and Silver Spring), International Rescue Committee, said:

Both Juan and Willian were both harassed by gangs, who tried to recruit them actively by the gangs in El Salvador. Harassment became so bad that the boys were unable to leave their homes out of fear. Both experienced beatings by gang members for their refusal to join, two of their closest friends were murdered by the gangs, and the house where they now live was set on fire. Their mother, who applied to bring her sons to the US through the Central American Minors program, has been told that because of the cancellation of the CAM-AOR program, her boys may never be able to come to the United States. This family’s story is typical of the types of risks that child applicants in the Central American Minors program face every day. 

Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Senior Associate at Latin America Working Group, said:

The violence, corruption and impunity driving the forced migration of families, individuals and children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador continue unabated. Women, men, youth and children continue to be threatened and murdered on a daily basis by gangs, organized crime and state security forces. They’re forced to go into hiding to find safety because they receive neither security nor justice from their own governments and often have to leave their home countries because they have nowhere else to turn. The administration should recognize this humanitarian situation in the region for what it is –a refugee crisis and be held accountable for closing its doors to those in immediate danger for their lives.

Mario Turcios, Father of a young woman in El Salvador who applied for the CAM program, said:

I fled El Salvador after experiencing extreme state violence. As you know, El Salvador is a country with a history of state violence and is a cradle of impunity…A year ago, I was able to petition for my son, and in 2016 my son was able to come under the CAM program. I petitioned also for my daughter and her son, my grandson, and they were coming under the CAM program, but now we don’t know because the CAM program is canceled…If these kids, if these adolescents, if these young people like my children and others don’t come, essentially, we are condemning them to death. 

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, The United Methodist Church, San Francisco Area, and Chair of the Immigration Task Force, said:

As people of faith and goodwill, it is our moral responsibility to respond to suffering with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Now is the time to cast aside our partisan differences and seek solutions to ensure the long-term health and safety of vulnerable children and exploited families among them those affected by the CAM program.  May we continue to pray and work for justice for families who are suffering separation from their children. And may we pray that our elected leaders experience a change of heart and turn and uphold our nation’s commitment and responsibility to protect the least among us.

Responses to the CAM program termination are linked here from CWSUSCRI, and IRChere.

Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees, immigrants and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty. Learn more about our refugee and immigrant work at GreaterAs1.org.