- A new report indicates that it would take more than a decade to process the applications of the families of immigrant children from Central America who applied between 2014 and 2017 for family reunification
A humanitarian family reunification program aimed at helping immigrant children from Central America reunite with their families in the United States got off to a slow start under the Biden administration, despite attempts to resume it after its cancellation under the Trump administration, according to a new report from the International Refugee Assistance Project.
The report highlights that families who want to access the Central American Minors (CAM) program, or even those who are already in the process, face bottlenecks in their applications, long waiting times and lack of advice and help from a lawyer. .
Established in 2014 by then-President Barack Obama, CAM aimed to stem the tide of unaccompanied children crossing the border by making it legal for the children’s parents residing in the US to bring them.
However, the program has faced a series of barriers and even its elimination under the government of Donald Trump (2017-2021), a decision that was sued in court by affected parents.
The government of President Joe Biden revived the program and last year announced an extension that allowed, in addition to the parents of minors, other guardians with different immigration statuses to apply for children living in the so-called Triangle of Central America.
However, the report found that “without adequate resources to improve processing times and transparency, the CAM program will dramatically fail to deliver on its promise.”
The report also notes that because of the Democratic administration’s inability to repair longstanding problems, “many eligible families are unable to even file a CAM application and thousands are left waiting indefinitely to be reunited with their families in the United States.”
Since March 2021, when the program restarted, only a hundred of the nearly 3,800 eligible households have met their requirements to enter the US, according to the report.
Lacy Broemel, a policy analyst at IRAP and a co-author of the report, urged the Biden Administration to make changes in a statement. “For the thousands of families currently waiting to be reunited through the CAM Program and the thousands more who are eligible, these changes cannot wait.”
IRAP and 100 other immigrant advocacy organizations today sent a letter to the Biden administration outlining steps the administration can take to strengthen the program, which is currently facing a lawsuit brought by 15 Republican states led by Texas.