For Immediate Release: September 21, 2022
Press Contact: Spencer Tilger | firstname.lastname@example.org
REPORT: ONE YEAR SINCE BIDEN EXPANDED CENTRAL AMERICAN MINORS REFUGEE AND PAROLE PROGRAM, DELAYS KEEP FAMILIES APART
New IRAP report and letter signed by 101 NGOs urge Biden administration to improve CAM Program
(New York, NY) – Today, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) released a new report, “More than Words: Making Good on the Promise of the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program,” which highlights the barriers separated families face accessing the Central American Minors (CAM) Program and reuniting in the United States. In addition to the report, IRAP and 100 partner organizations sent the Biden administration a letter outlining steps the government can take to strengthen the Program.
The letter and report come a year and a half after the CAM Program was restarted by the Biden administration following its termination during the Trump administration, and one year after the administration expanded CAM eligibility to more families and new applications. The report’s findings show that without the proper resources to improve processing times and transparency, the CAM Program will dramatically fail to meet its promise. At current rates, it would take more than a decade just to process the applications of families who applied between 2014 and 2017.
To improve the CAM Program, the report identifies three main challenges that must be addressed:
- Bottlenecks in the application process prevent large numbers of eligible families from accessing the CAM Program;
- Lengthy adjudication timelines further endanger at-risk children waiting to reunite with their families; and
- Lack of access to counsel and lack of transparency risk unfair case outcomes.
In their letter, the nonprofits urge the administration to make the following improvements:
- Increase awareness of and meaningful access to the CAM Program among eligible families;
- Improve the transparency and efficiency of case processing;
- Ensure that children have access to counsel in and fair adjudication of interviews; and
- Improve access to services for families reunified through parole.
Lacy Broemel, IRAP Policy Analyst and co-author of the report, said: “While the Biden administration has taken initial steps to revive the CAM Program, delays and red tape are preventing it from living up to its promise. For the thousands of families who are currently waiting to reunite through the CAM Program and the thousands more who are eligible, these changes can’t wait.”
Despite its longstanding challenges, the CAM Program is a protection and family reunification pathway that thousands of families rely on and that tens of thousands more could benefit from. The report includes stories of CAM Program applicants left waiting indefinitely to reunite with their families in the United States.
Uzias, a father who is still waiting to reunite with his family through the CAM Program, said: “Now that I am safe, I worry every day about my children and wish they were with me. I am worried that the people who threatened me in Honduras will come after my kids and hurt them.”
Timoteo, a father and CAM Program applicant who is still waiting to reunify with his daughter, said: “When I learned that my daughter’s case was being reopened, I felt relieved and happy that she might be able to join us here after all these years. As a parent, it has been very hard for me to feel my daughter’s absence, to worry about her safety, and to stay patient through the years of processing.”
About the CAM Program
The CAM Program was created in 2014 to enable thousands of children to escape life-threatening danger and reunite safely 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. While the Trump administration previously terminated the CAM Program, the Biden administration has since reopened the program, expanded it to new applicants, and is defending the program against a legal challenge brought by 15 states.
IRAP previously won a lawsuit that reopened processing for thousands of families after the Trump administration terminated CAM, and is currently representing two parents to defend the Program in Texas v. Biden.
- Read the new report, “More than Words: Making Good on the Promise of the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program”: HERE
- Read the letter signed by 101 organizations: HERE
- Read about IRAP’s previous lawsuit defending CAM: HERE
- Read about IRAP litigation on behalf of CAM applicants in Texas v. Biden: HERE
- Families who may be eligible for CAM can learn more about the program: HERE