Washington, DC—Yesterday, the Biden Administration took another step forward in protecting the large numbers of children experiencing persecution and violence in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America by expanding the Central American Minors refugee resettlement program. This vital program allows eligible children to apply for protection while still in their home country, thus avoiding the dangerous journey north. The Biden Administration reinstated CAM in March, reopening cases that were closed when the last Administration ended CAM in 2018. Today’s reopening permits additional children to apply under expanded eligibility criteria.
“KIND is pleased that the Administration is expanding eligibility to children who have parents and legal guardians who are in the process of applying for asylum or other protection,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “But for CAM to protect the largest number of children in danger, eligibility should be expanded further to allow children who have other loving family members to care for them. That would not only be in the best interests of these children, but would also help alleviate pressure at the border.”
KIND also urges the Administration to prioritize legal counsel for children who are applying for CAM. Lawyers are vital to ensuring that children can access the program effectively, understand the process, and succeed with their refugee status claims or otherwise pursue a path to permanency in the United States.
KIND has called on the Administration to expedite processing time, which can take more than six months. In the meantime, the Administration must create emergency evacuation mechanisms for children in imminent danger who cannot safely wait in their communities or countries while their cases are processed.
While CAM is a critical part of the Administration’s strategic response that provides a lifeline to some children, the Administration must work to protect children who still feel compelled to flee their home countries. This includes working with Mexican officials to stop acts of violence against migrant children and families who travel through Mexico seeking safety and restoring full access to asylum procedures for children and others at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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