Updates to the Central American Minors Program
The Central American Minors, or CAM, program was created by the Obama administration to allow minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to reunite with their parents and legal guardians in the United States. The program allows the child to be considered first for refugee status and then for parole in the alternative. The program has had a few iterations and starts and stops along the way. Please see CLINIC’s All about Parole Practice Advisory to learn more about the history of the program and the eligibility requirements. On April 11, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, published a new rule in the Federal Register announcing new enhancements to the CAM program. Most of these updates are welcome news. These new changes are as follows:
New CAM eligibly criteria and dates.
Previously, only qualifying parents and legal guardians who had a pending asylum application or U status application as of May 15, 2021, were eligible for the CAM program. However, under the new enhancements, parents and legal guardians who have an asylum application, U status application and/or a T status application, pending as of April 11, 2023, are now eligible for the CAM program. The addition of the T status application is a welcome change for those who have suffered from human trafficking and previously had to wait for their cases to be adjudicated before reuniting with their children. The most notable change is that these applications must be pending as of April 11, 2023, which is another welcome change.
Reopening of CAM Cases that were excluded from the Phase One reopening.
Please see the CLINIC FAQs for more information on the CAM reopening here. Phase One of the CAM reopening in 2021 focused on applications that had been suspended or closed without an interview during the previous administration. Phase One did not include CAM cases where U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, had conducted a refugee interview before February 2018 and parole eligibility was not considered. In this group were those cases where USCIS had considered certain applicants for parole, but those individuals were unable to complete the parole process because of policy reasons. USCIS will now consider parole for all these cases by verifying eligibility and potentially issuing new interview notices or requests for evidence.
Sworn statement in lieu of an I-134.
If USCIS finds a CAM beneficiary ineligible for refugee status, USCIS will subsequently determine their eligibility for parole. Previously, qualifying parents and legal guardians had to file form I-134 to support the parole application. Under this new rule, USCIS will allow financial supporters to provide a sworn statement as an alternative to completing Form I–134, and USCIS may request supporting documentation as needed. However, applications for re-parole under CAM for beneficiaries who are already in the United States will still require a Form I–134 by the sponsor.
New information sharing process between USCIS and CBP.
In cases some cases where the qualifying individual who filed the CAM Affidavit of Relationship is not the child’s biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian, USCIS will confirm if there is biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian in the United States who is willing to care for the child. This happens mostly in cases where the qualifying relative is a stepparent. This information will be shared with Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, as part of the parole process in limited cases where the child could possibly be reunited with the biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian in the United States. It is unclear what this process will entail in practice so please stay tuned for more information.
If you have a client eligible for the CAM Process:
If you have a client interested in the CAM process, please reach out to Kids In Need of Defense, or KIND. They are filling out the Affidavit of Relationships for qualified parents and legal guardians and then submitting them directly to resettlement agencies for further processing. You can find KIND’s online referral form here.