News & Resources

Court Orders Government to Resume Processing Central American Minors In Terminated Humanitarian Program


March 4, 2019


Henrike Dessaules, IRAP,, 516-838-1269

Nicole Houston, Arnold & Porter,, 202-942-6418


(San Francisco, CA) – On March 1, a Northern California federal court ordered the U.S. government to resume processing applications of approximately 2,700 children and others in the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole program. The court’s decision granted in substantial part the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction in S.A. v. Trump.  

The children affected by the court’s decision had undergone months or years of application processing and had been approved by USCIS to reunite with their parents in the United States–as long as they cleared medical and final security checks and paid for plane tickets.  Some of the children were days or weeks away from reuniting with their parents and had already bought plane tickets when the Trump Administration secretly shut down the CAM parole program in January 2017. The Trump Administration officially terminated the program and revoked the children’s conditional parole status en masse in August 2017. In an earlier order in December 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler found that the government’s mass revocation of conditional parole from CAM applicants was unlawful.

In her March 1 decision, Judge Beeler recognized that the government’s action was causing “irreparable harm” to the plaintiffs by prolonging the separation of children from their parents and preventing the children from escaping life-threatening danger. The court found that the government had not demonstrated that it would suffer any hardship if required to resume application processing.

The court ordered the government to submit a plan by March 21 for processing the children’s applications. Noting that the government previously said it may not follow an order to resume CAM processing, the court specifically ordered the government to comply: “The court thus explicitly orders that DHS may not adopt any policy, procedure, or practice of not processing the beneficiaries or placing their processing on hold en masse” and “must process the beneficiaries in good faith.”  

While the court largely granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, it denied the plaintiffs’ request to resume processing for applicants who were in earlier stages of the application process when the Trump Administration terminated the CAM Parole program.

S.A. v. Trump was brought by 12 children and parent applicants to the CAM parole program, as well as the community organization CASA. The plaintiffs are represented by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Arnold & Porter.

In response to the ruling, the counsel issued the following statements:

Linda Evarts, Litigation Staff Attorney, IRAP: “We are thrilled with the court’s decision and hope that this will bring our clients much closer to reuniting with their families in safety and escaping the dangers they face everyday.”

Daniel Asimow, Partner, Arnold & Porter: “We are very pleased with this result. Judge Beeler’s comprehensive order carefully reviewed and rejected each of the Government’s arguments against injunctive relief. The order requires DHS to resume processing of over 2,700 applications in good faith.  We hope and expect that the Government will comply fully and that our clients and many others soon will be reunited with their families.”

The text of the order can be found here.

To view the press release, click here.

International Refugee Assistance Project