Central American Minors Program Provides Much-Needed Protection for Refugee Children

March 22, 2023

Washington, DC –Today’s U.S. Senate hearing, “Living Up to America’s Promise: The Need to Bolster the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” will underscore the invaluable protection the program provides those fleeing persecution throughout the world.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) submitted a statement for the record addressing the pivotal role that the Central American Minors (CAM) Program can play in reducing the unauthorized migration of children by allowing parents from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to submit applications for their children to be interviewed for refugee status while still in their countries of origin.

CAM was started in 2014 under the Obama Administration, was terminated by the Trump Administration in 2017, and reinstated by the Biden Administration in 2021. Through CAM, several thousand children have been admitted as refugees or paroled into the United States in recognition of the risks they face in their home countries. The potential to assist even more children exists but the CAM program must be given more resources and support for it to be successful.

KIND screens and assists parents who hope to file for their children under the re-instated CAM program. Through its work, KIND believes that more children will have the opportunity to qualify as refugees if the appropriate mechanisms are in place to assess their claims more efficiently.

In its statement for the record, KIND recommends the following to ensure refugee claims are appropriately identified:

  • Ensure that children are permitted access to counsel during interviews.
  • Reinforce existing factual and legal frameworks upon which refugee determinations are based.
  • Expand access to vulnerable groups such as women, children, and LGBTQ individuals.
  • Ensure that legal standards on issues such as domestic and gang violence are consistent with international norms.

KIND urges Congress and the Administration to do more to support innovative programs like CAM. Prioritized correctly, CAM can serve as a touchstone for the Administration’s vision of refugee resettlement.


Media Contact:

Megan McKenna, mmckenna@supportkind.org, 202-631-9990

Shamari White at kind@westendstrategy.com or (202) 714-4129.