Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) is excited to announce that it recently launched CAM Kids, a new program that helps children in danger in Central America seek safety in the United States. CAM Kids supplements KIND’s existing Central American Minors (CAM) program, which helps eligible parents in the United States apply for protection for their children in danger in Central America.
CAM provides a pathway for eligible parents and legal guardians living in the United States to apply for their qualifying children in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be considered for refugee status or humanitarian parole and avoid the treacherous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek safety. KIND’s assistance to parents and children is vital because the application process can be complex and intimidating. To date, KIND has helped more than 240 parents in the United States apply for their children to gain protection through the CAM program.
Since the launch of KIND’s CAM Application Program in September 2022—funded through a generous grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and in partnership with the International Rescue Committee—we have screened more than 470 parents to determine their eligibility to participate in the program. Our first case to go through the CAM process was recently approved for refugee status.
Privately funded, CAM Kids provides critical support to children in the CAM process. Two KIND lawyers based in Guatemala City help these kids, who are often in dangerous and difficult situations, navigate CAM and the procedures they must follow, including a refugee status interview with the U.S. government. To date, CAM Kids has assisted children as young as eight years old, providing interview preparation and essential information about the process. Recently, KIND worked with a 16-year-old with a potentially abusive caregiver. The child was fearful of disclosing information about domestic abuse in the interview given that she was still living with her caregiver. KIND helped the child to understand the refugee requirements and confidentiality of her information, so that she felt confident in telling her story.
In 2021, the Biden Administration expanded the CAM eligibility criteria to include parents and legal guardians with pending asylum and U visa applications filed on or before May 15, 2021. Prior to this change, eligibility was limited to parents and guardians with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), lawful permanent resident status, and DACA, among others. The criteria were again recently expanded to include parents and legal guardians with pending asylum, U visa and T visa applications filed on or before April 11, 2023. Over two-thirds of parents who KIND has assisted so far are asylum seekers or U visa applicants.
The application process is often slow and cumbersome, which has deterred parents from applying in the past. “Our program is unique in that we are striving to break down a major barrier to entry by helping parents prepare the CAM application and gather the supporting documentation they need to initiate the process for their children,” said Supervising Attorney Kate Metcalf who supervises the CAM program.
KIND’s model is unique in that KIND prepares CAM applications remotely, allowing us to reach a wider range of families. KIND’s legal expertise and advocacy has also helped parents with more complex case postures, such as those whose asylum cases are on appeal, establish their eligibility to apply. KIND is also leveraging our pro bono network to further expand the number of attorneys and other volunteers available to prepare CAM applications.