The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) expressed opposition to the Administration’s decision to end the parole program for Central American minors with parents in the United States. In an advanced copy of the August 16, 2017 Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it “will no longer provide special consideration of parole for certain individuals denied refugee status in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras under the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole Program.” The termination of the CAM Parole Program does not affect the CAM Refugee Program, DHS stated in the announcement.
“We are outraged that this Administration is undercutting a legal lifeline for children who face violence, rape, and even death at the hands of criminal gangs. Mothers and fathers, living in America legally, are being deprived of saving their children through legal means by this heartless decision,” said USCRI President/CEO Lavinia Limon.
The Central America Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole programs, announced by the U.S. State Department in 2014, helped families stay together, staying true to our American values. USCRI proposed in-country refugee processing as part of Six Solutions in the summer of 2014. In 2015, USCRI submitted a statement to Congress in support of the CAM Refugee/Parole program.
The CAM Refugee/Parole program allows certain parents who are legally present in the U.S. to apply for refugee status via the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for their children currently living in one of the above-named three countries. This means the children can be brought safely and legally to the U.S. through the U.S. Refugee Program. This program helps protect children facing persecution and who meet the refugee definition under U.S. law. Under the CAM Parole Program children who didn’t meet the U.S. definition of a refugee, but are still considered to be at risk of harm could be eligible to travel to the U.S safely and legally under humanitarian parole. Consideration for parole was assessed on a case-by-case basis by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These programs provide some children a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to embarking on the dangerous journey to the U.S. and preventing them from becoming victims of human smugglers and trafficking operations.
“The only ones applauding this decision are the human traffickers who will prey on parents who want their children to be safe,” Limon said.