More than words: making good on the promise of the central American minors refugee and parole program

Author: International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)

Date: September 2022

Country: Central America

Type of legal pathway: Family reunification

Language: English 

Description: The Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program (CAM Program) allows certain parents and legal guardians in the United States to apply for their children and eligible family members in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador to reunite with them in safety in the United States as refugees or parolees. Created in 2014 by the Obama administration, the Program was terminated by the Trump administration over the course of 2017 and 2018. The Biden administration restarted it in two phases in 2021. “Phase 1” in March 2021 allowed the processing of applications that were prematurely closed due to the CAM Program’s termination. “Phase 2” in September 2021 expanded the populations eligible for CAM and opened the program to new applications. Yet a year and a half after restarting CAM processing and one year since beginning to accept new applications, the administration has not done nearly enough to fix the CAM Program’s longstanding challenges. As a result, many eligible families are unable to even apply to the CAM Program and thousands are left waiting indefinitely to reunite with their families in the United States. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) calls on the Biden administration to invest in improving this family reunification program. This report documents the inadequate status quo of the CAM Program and offers specific recommendations for the Biden administration to improve its speed and scale.