Certain relatives of Central American immigrants could soon legally enter the United States under a recent expansion of the Obama administration’s "In-Country Refugee/Parole Processing for Minors in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala" program. Announced Monday to stakeholders, the extended initiative -- also called Central American Minors (CAM) -- is aimed at helping children but also covers some immigrants’ spouses and grandchildren, NumbersUSA reported.
The free program, which the State Department and Department of Homeland Security debuted in November, works to give children a “safe, legal and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey” other children have attempted, according to its website. About 63,000 unaccompanied minors were caught at the U.S.-Mexico border between October 2013 and July 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported. The influx could be due in part to increased crime and gang violence in the kids’ home countries, according to Reuters.
The CAM program began accepting applications on Dec. 1. In order to qualify, a parent needs to be older than 18 and in the U.S. legally under permanent resident status, temporary protected status, parolee, deferred action, deferred enforced departure or withholding of removal. A child who wants to join their parent in the U.S. must be under 21, unmarried and living in El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras.
Under the expanded plan, unmarried kids of a qualifying child -- grandchildren of the original qualifying parent -- could also migrate. The spouse of the qualifying parent is eligible for the CAM program, as well. This is “a whole new pipeline for legal migration,” Ann Corcoran, editor of Refugee Resettlement Watch, told the Daily Caller.
It is unclear whether the CAM program would cover the estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants set to benefit from President Barack Obama’s 2014 immigration reform efforts. Applications for Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents initiative are due to open in May.