News & Resources

IRAP Seeks to Defend Central American Minors Program Against Texas Legal Challenge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 23, 2021

PRESS CONTACT

Spencer Tilger | media@refugeerights.org | (646) 761-2556

IRAP SEEKS TO DEFEND CENTRAL AMERICAN MINORS PROGRAM AGAINST TEXAS LEGAL CHALLENGE

IRAP Represents Four Families Eligible for CAM; Seeks to Uphold Pathway for Safe Reunification of Families

(Amarillo, TX) – Last night, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) filed a motion on behalf of four families to intervene in the legal challenge filed by 15 states attempting to shut down the Central American Minors (CAM) Program. The case, Texas v. Biden, was filed in federal court at the end of January 2022. If the motion to intervene is approved by the court, the four affected parents represented by IRAP will join the lawsuit as defendants. Each of the parents seeks to reunite with their children or remain together through the CAM Program. The families include long-time residents of Texas and Florida who are active members of their communities.

Since 2014, the CAM Program has enabled thousands of children to escape life-threatening danger and reunite with their parents in the United States. Under CAM, all vetting and screening of applicants is done in Central America, and when children and other family members are approved to travel to the U.S., they do so safely by plane, rather than through a dangerous land journey to the border. After the Trump administration previously terminated CAM, the Biden administration reopened the program and expanded it to new applicants. Now, the 15 states led by Texas are attempting to yet again close off one of the only pathways for migrant children from Central America to reunite with their families.

Senior Supervising Attorney at IRAP, Linda Evarts, said:

“Family reunification is a cornerstone of American immigration policy and a value that transcends political lines. The families represented by IRAP have already suffered tremendously as a result of the prior termination of the CAM program. They ask for the chance to be heard in court and to defend this program, so they can safely reunite with their loved ones in the United States.”

Background

IRAP previously represented several families and the organization CASA de Maryland in a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s 2017 termination of the CAM Program. IRAP’s clients entered into a settlement with the government that reopened CAM processing for thousands of families. The government is still processing CAM applicants under that settlement, and IRAP is continuing to fight to protect this important pathway to safety.

One of IRAP’s client is Jesús, a Salvadoran mother referred to by a pseudonym for her family’s safety. Jesús has lived in Texas for more than twenty years and has Temporary Protected Status (TPS). More than six years ago, she applied to the CAM Program for her son in El Salvador, who lives in an area controlled by violent gangs. Her son was conditionally approved to come to the U.S. in 2016. However, despite finishing all processing and even paying for a plane ticket to the U.S. in 2017, her son was not able to travel because the Trump administration canceled the CAM Program. His application still remains pending today. 

Jesús says: “I have waited so long for my son to come to the United States, and I am losing hope. My greatest fear is that the U.S. government will cancel the CAM Program again just like last time, and that, at the very last minute, my son will be prevented from joining me here in the United States. I want to participate in this case in order to defend the CAM Program so that I can reunite with my son in safety in the United States, and so that other families who are eligible for the program can do the same.” 

Another IRAP client was on the verge of being reunited with her family in the U.S. when the CAM program was terminated by the Trump administration. During the years that followed, her brother was murdered and she and her family were practically unable to leave their own home due to the constant threat of violence. As a result of IRAP’s previous lawsuit, they were eventually able to come to the United States, and now they want to extend their time in the U.S. through CAM so that the family can stay safely together. 

Additional Resources

Read the filing: HERE

Read about IRAP’s previous lawsuit defending CAM: HERE

Families who may be eligible for CAM can learn more about the program: HERE

###