President Biden will reinstate portions of the Central American Minors Program (CAM) that were cancelled by the Trump administration CAM was originally established by the Obama administration in November 2014, in response to family separations among immigrants from Central America.
CAM was designed to facilitate family reunifications of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, either in refugee status or under a temporary parole program.
All told, over 3.000 migrants have used one of these two pathways to enter the United States. The parole arrangement, however, was canceled by the Trump administration in August 2017, citing fears that the program could assist the spread of Central American gangs such as MS-13. Nevertheless, the CAM program still allows qualifying applicants to enter the US in refugee status.
Reinstituting the Parole Option
The US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) is working together with the Department of Homeland Security to reinstitute CAM´s parole option for those who do not qualify for refugee status. One of the primary motivations for doing so is to discourage migrants from undertaking the dangerous journey over the US’s southern border.
The reopening will occur in two phases. First, immigration authorities will adjudicate suspended applications that were canceled by the Trump administration. The USCIS will notify parent applicants to determine if (i) they are still lawfully present in the US, and (ii) if they would like to re-open their cases.
Next, PRM will work through its Resettlement Support Center in El Salvador to contact the child and parent beneficiaries from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to re-institute case processing that was suspended in 2017. Finally, PRM and the USCIS will begin accepting and processing new applications.
Unless the Biden administration changes the rules, you will need to meet the following requirements to qualify as a qualifying parent, a qualifying child beneficiary, or parent beneficiary under the CAM program.
To bring a qualifying child to the United States under the CAM program, you must be at least 18 years old, and you must be physically present in the US. Your presence in the US must be based on one of the following immigration categories::
- Lawful permanent resident;
- Deferred Action;
- Deferred Enforced Departure;
- Temporary Protected Status; or
- Withholding of Removal.
In any case, your presence in the US must be lawful at the time you submit your application.
But what if you are the qualifying child’s other parent? Suppose, for example, that the child’s mother files a CAM application on behalf of her child, and you are the child’s father. You can also qualify for parole into the United States, as long as:
- You are part of the same household as the qualifying child; and
- You are legally married to the qualifying parent, both at the time the CAM Affidavit of Relationship is filed, and at the time you arrive in the US.
A CAM Affidavit of Relationship, known as DS-7699, is a US State Department form that allows you to prove your qualifying relationship (parent/child or spouse/spouse).
To enter the US as a qualifying child, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be the child of a qualifying parent, as defined above. It is fine if you are a stepchild or an adopted child. Your qualifying parent must apply on your behalf.
- You must be under 21 years of age.
- You must be unmarried.
- You must be a citizen or national of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.
Re-establishment of the CAM parole program is expected to begin sometime in March 2021 with respect to the re-opening of suspended applications. The acceptance of brand-new applications, however, is likely to be delayed until some time in the spring of 2021.