The Central American Minors (CAM) program was established to provide certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered for refugee resettlement in the United States and to discourage those individuals from undertaking the dangerous journey to seek entry into the United States to join family members. Since the launch of the CAM program in December 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has considered cases found ineligible for refugee status for the possibility of admission to the United States under parole. A Federal Register Notification (FRN) was made available for public viewing on August 15, 2017 that it will no longer consider parole as an option for admission under the CAM Program, and will rescind approvals for those conditionally approved for parole but who have not yet entered the United States. The official publication of the FRN is set for August 16, 2017.
Central American Minors Program
- On August 15, 2017, a Federal Register Notice was made available for public viewing indicating that USCIS has determined that it will no longer consider or authorize parole under the CAM Program.
- The termination of the parole option does not change the overall application process or availability of refugee status through the CAM Program.
- We continue to accept and process applications for the CAM Program to consider applicants for refugee status.
Questions and Answers about the Central American Minors Program
Q: What is the Central American Minors Program and who is eligible?
- The Central American Minors program allows parents who are lawfully present in the United States to request that their children who are nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras be considered for admission to the United States as refugees.
- The Central American Minors program provides for children who qualify as refugees a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are taking to join their families in the United States.
Q: Why is the parole portion of the program being terminated?
- Executive Order 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, issued on Jan. 25, 2017, called for DHS to ensure that parole authority is exercised in accordance with statute and is granted only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.
- After conducting a careful review of the parole portion of the CAM Program under these criteria, DHS has decided to terminate parole determinations under the program.
- Individuals outside the United States may still request parole into the United States based on humanitarian or significant public benefit grounds through the standard application process.
Q: What are the current statistics on CAM applications and arrivals?
- The program launched on December 1, 2014 and has received applications from more than 13,000 individuals.
- More than 3,000 individuals have been admitted to the United States via the CAM Program, both as refugees and parolees.
- As of August 4, 1,565 children and eligible family members have arrived as refugees and 1,465 have been paroled into the United States.
- Since the program launched in December 2014, approximately 70% of those approved for travel have been recommended for parole and 30% have been approved for refugee status.
- Approximately 2,700 individuals have been conditionally approved for parole under the program, but will not be allowed to travel as a result of this decision.
- Since the program launched in December 2014, approximately 70 percent of those approved for travel have been recommended for parole, and 30 percent have been approved for refugee status.
Q: Can people still apply for the CAM Program?
- CAM applications continue to be accepted. A qualifying parent may file a CAM Affidavit of Relationship Form, which allows the U.S. government to determine whether the qualifying child and eligible family members should be granted access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
- These applications are filed at resettlement agency affiliates in the United States. Please visit wrapsnet.org for a list of the 350+ resettlement agency affiliates across 180 communities in the United States.
Q: How does the Central American Minors program application process work?
- Applications must be processed by the Department of State and individuals must be interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security.
- Each family member must also undergo DNA testing to verify the parent-child relationship.
Q: Do CAM relationships require DNA testing?
- Yes, when eligibility for the program is based on a relationship that is verifiable by DNA, DNA testing is required.
Q: How is this decision being communicated to the Governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras?
- The Department of State and our Embassies in the region are in regular contact with the host governments, including on matters related to changes in U.S. policy.
- Both USCIS and the Department of State are in regular contact with foreign embassies in Washington, DC on immigration matters affecting nationals of their countries.
Q: How does this decision fit with the Trump administration’s expressed support for Central America, as seen at the June 15-16 Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America in Miami?
- It is important to note that the CAM Program continues. We continue to accept and process applications, evaluating them for admission to the United States as refugees.
- A secure and stable Central America contributes to a safer and more prosperous United States by helping to secure our borders, protect U.S. citizens, and increase opportunities for U.S. and other businesses.
- The Administration reaffirmed its commitment to the region at the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.
- As Vice President Pence stated, the United States stands with the nations of Central America in their “commitment to root out crime and corruption … to stop the scourge of drug trafficking once and for all … [and to] build a more secure and prosperous future for the benefit of [its] people and the benefit of the Western Hemisphere.”
- Our engagement in Central America aims to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, combat drug trafficking, halt illegal immigration, and promote sustainable economic growth by addressing the underlying causes of insecurity, impunity, and lack of economic opportunity.
- U.S. programs complement the efforts of Central American governments to root out crime and corruption, deter illicit trafficking, and create a positive climate for private investment and economic growth that leads to enhanced employment opportunities.
Q: Will the fees be reimbursed for those who have been approved but not yet traveled?
- If individuals have been conditionally approved for parole and paid the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for a medical exam but have not completed the medical exam, IOM will contact those individuals to arrange for a refund of the medical exam expenses.
- If individuals have completed a medical exam, the medical exam fee will not be refunded.
- If individuals have been conditionally approved for parole and paid IOM for travel expenses but have not yet made travel arrangements, IOM will contact those individuals to arrange a refund of their travel expenses.
Q: Does this mean that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will not be extended for nationals of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua?
- No decisions have been announced regarding the extension of TPS for nationals of El Salvador, Honduras, or Nicaragua.
- The decision to terminate the parole option in the CAM Program is unrelated to any decision on existing TPS designations.
Q: How does eliminating the parole option in the CAM Program contribute to the security and prosperity of the United States?
- The decision to terminate the parole option in the CAM program was made as a result of the program review undertaken following issuance of Executive Order 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.
- The United States recognizes the need to make progress on economic and security priorities, and is working with our counterparts on next steps to advance objectives and deliverables from the June 15-16 Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.
Q: If applicants were approved, wasn’t it determined that they are at significant risk?
- The review and subsequent termination of the parole option in the CAM Program is unrelated to the risk of harm in each specific case.
- The termination of the parole option does not preclude individuals from applying for parole through the standard parole application process.
- USCIS considers applications for parole on a case-by-case basis and authorizes parole only where the applicant demonstrates an urgent humanitarian need or a significant public benefit for parole.
Q: How many people will be impacted by this decision, and what happens to them now?
- Approximately 2,700 individuals will be notified by USCIS that their conditional offer of parole has been rescinded. Each individual will receive information about any other options that may exist for them or their family members.
- The United States remains committed to a secure and stable Central America, and we will work with our partners in the region to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, combat drug trafficking, halt illegal immigration, and promote sustainable economic growth by addressing the underlying causes of insecurity, impunity, and lack of economic opportunity.
Q: Aren’t you increasing the likelihood that these individuals will embark on the very dangerous journey this program was set up to prevent?
- As always, we strongly discourage anyone considering undertaking this journey from doing so, for their own safety.
Q: Will the refugee option remain available given the administration’s decision to cut by half the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States in FY2017?
- While the President’s March 6 Executive Order suspended the United States Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days – now set to expire in late October – and limited FY 2017 refugee admissions to 50,000, the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision prevented the implementation of those provisions with regard to individuals who have a credible claim to a bona fide relationship with an individual or entity in the United States.
- In general, eligibility for the CAM Program is dependent upon a close family relationship that is verified through DNA testing. Therefore, most CAM refugees are eligible to travel by virtue of having a bona fide relationship despite the refugee provisions in the President’s March 6 Executive Order.
Q: What is the status of Costa Rica’s Protection Transfer Arrangement (PTA)? Are cases still being processed?
- We remain committed to last year’s announcement expanding refugee processing initiatives in the Western Hemisphere. We continue to resettle Central American refugees via the Protection Transfer Arrangement.