The Central American Minor (CAM) Program

The Central American Minor (CAM) Program

The CAM Program was implemented by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration from December 2014 to August 2017 in response to the arrival of an unprecedented number of unaccompanied youth from Central America on the southern U.S. border. Intended to be a part of a regional humanitarian strategy to deter children from attempting the perilous journey to the U.S. through Mexico, the program prioritized family reunification and humanitarian concerns, and provided a safe and legal option for children to reunite with their biological parents in the U.S. who had a qualifying legal status. CAM sought to protect children facing persecution or fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group and was seen as one prong of a multi-pronged humanitarian response to the plight of unaccompanied children threatened by the violence in Central America. CAM applications that were approved were then processed as refugee cases. Some CAM cases that were initially denied refugee status were instead conditionally approved for parole status. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped authorizing parole status to CAM applicants on August 15, 2017 and the Department of State then stopped accepting applications for the CAM refugee program on November 10, 2017. Any application which had not received an interview with USCIS by January 31, 2018 was closed and those that received an interview continued to be processed for consideration in the refugee program.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) and USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) have strongly advocated against the closure of this program. You can read the statement of Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the USCCB/COM, opposing the CAM program closure here. You can also find letters sent by USCCB/MRS on the program closure here and here.

Although this program has ended, the resources below may still be useful as the final applications are processed and accepted applicants travel to the U.S.:

  • CAM-AOR Process Flow Chart (USCCB)- This flow chart provides a detailed look at the application process from start to finish.
  • CAM Backgrounder (CORE)- The Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee, created a helpful document to educate service providers across the spectrum working with unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. This document contains historical, and political information meant to provide a deeper understanding of the diversity of these youth.
  • CAM Parole FAQ  in English & Spanish (USCCB) – This fact sheet provides detailed information and commonly asked questions regarding Parole Status in the CAM Program.
  • Reconnecting Families in English & Spanish (USCRI & Fairfax County Public Schools)- The intent of this book is to help children, parents, and sponsors serving a “parent role” build trusting and loving relationships. The book helps parents begin the conversation of discovery. Through activities and discussions parents and children get to know one another again.

For more information visit: https://www.uscis.gov/CAM

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