June 16, 2021
Contact: Lauri Alvarez, Program Associate
LAWG Welcomes Central American Minors Program Expansion, Urges Swift Implementation with Civil Society Organizations
Washington D.C.—The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) welcomes the joint statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State announcing the implementation of the second phase of the Central American Minors (CAM) program. After the Biden Administration reopened cases of children and teenagers that were closed when the program was terminated by President Trump, the second phase of the program would expand eligibility criteria to include children with legal guardians and parents with the following status, “lawful permanent residence; temporary protected status; parole; deferred action; deferred enforced departure; or withholding of removal, and certain U.S.-based parents or legal guardians who have a pending asylum application or a pending U visa petition filed before May 15, 2021.”
Since its termination by the Trump Administration, LAWG has advocated for this life-saving program to be reinstated and expanded as a way for children and teenagers at grave risk in the northern countries of Central America to be reunited with their families in the United States and to have an alternative to making the journey to the U.S.-Mexico border. Reinstating an improved version of the program, including expansion of eligibility, forms a part of our joint comprehensive recommendations on how to transform U.S. foreign and migration policy towards the northern countries of Central America. These efforts should be complementary to, and not replace or bar, access to protection at the U.S. border, where a safe, fair, orderly and humane asylum process should be fully and immediately restored.
LAWG Co-director, Daniella Burgi-Palomino made the following statement:
“Children in the northern countries of Central America face situations of danger and are in urgent need of protection. We applaud the Biden Administration’s announcement to reinstate a program that can provide them with an alternative from making the dangerous trek to the border and to expand the eligibility criteria, which will mean more children will have access to this life-saving measure. We urge the administration to move ahead and process cases quickly together with civil society organizations in the United States and Central America, while also ensuring access to asylum for people at the U.S.-Mexico border.”