Central American Minors Program up in the air
When Donald Trump issued executive orders suspending refugee admissions into the United States, one of the affected programs was the Central American Minors program ("CAM"). This program was intended to provide a safer route to the US for children in Central America fleeing violence. Rather the making the perilous journey through Mexico, minors with a parent legally in the US (including on TPS) could apply for refugee status in their home country and later, if approved, fly to the US to join their parent.
A recent story by PRI describes the need for the program and the impact of the program's uncertain future. The program's impact is told through the story of Juan, a Salvadoran youth whose life was imperiled by gang death threats:
Juan's family initially decided he should make the trip to the US. They thought he would have a good chance at gaining asylum, and his mother would be there to receive him. But he only made it as far as Mexico, where he was picked up by Mexican authorities and sent back to El Salvador. It was a harrowing experience, his aunt says. That's when Juan went into hiding inside his aunt's apartment and applied for asylum through CAM.
"The idea behind CAM was to provide a safe and legal alternative to that journey and allow children to apply for permission to live in the US without ever having to leave home," says Faye Hipsman, an analyst with the Migration Policy Institute.
CAM was meant to decrease the number of unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America. While a good in theory, Hipsman says, it hasn't done much.On this blog we have previously noted the tiny number of young people benefited by this program despite the much greater need. Now even the slight opening for refugee children which CAM offered is seriously in question. From the PRI story:
Faye Hipsman of the Migration Policy Institute says inside the Trump administration there are staunch critics of the CAM program.
"The program is absolutely on the administration's radar," Hipsman says. "There was a lot of opposition to CAM initially from members of Congress. And many of the people on the Hill who were critics of the CAM program when it was launched are in the Trump administration today."
One of the most outspoken senators against CAM was Jeff Sessions, who is now Trump's attorney general.For the moment, a few youth are still being resettled in the US while Trump's executive orders on refugees remain blocked by the courts. But while some might be resettled others are sent back to gang-controlled barrios in El Salvador, One was Wendy Miranda Fernandez, a twenty-three year old who had fled from the gangs in El Salvador when she was 14, was deported from the US, despite having lived in the US for nine years with no criminal record and being engaged to a US citizen. Under Trump and Sessions, there are more and more youth like Wendy Miranda, and fewer and fewer who can hope to find refuge in the US.