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Women’s Refugee Commission Condemns Termination of Central American Minors (CAM) Program

Washington, DC. – Last night, the Trump administration officially terminated the Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program with an announcement that it would no longer accept applications to the program as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday night.

The CAM program began at the end of 2014 under the Obama administration and provided in-country processing for vulnerable children fleeing violence and grave danger in their home countries. The program, available in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, allowed children to apply for refugee status or humanitarian parole in the United States. Only children with parents present in the U.S. with lawful immigration status were eligible. Further, children had to go through many screenings as part of the process in order to establish that they qualified for protection – in the form of refugee status or temporary parole – because of the danger they were facing.

As of August 2017, more than 1,500 children and eligible family members had arrived in the U.S. as refugees – and another 1,500 arrived with grants of humanitarian parole – under the CAM program, according to the State Department. More than 13,000 people have applied for the program since it began.

Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women's Refugee Commission, made the following statement:

“Terminating the Central American Minors (CAM) program will leave children fleeing violence in their home countries without a critical lifeline and without other options. While the CAM program was not a solution for all children facing persecution and violence, it provided a legal and orderly way for some children to apply for protection in their home countries and arrive to the U.S. safely, without having to take a dangerous journey to get here. The administration is closing off all avenues of protection – both for those seeking safety at our borders and now even for those who applied from their home countries. Ending the CAM program will only result in endangering more lives and driving more desperate children into the hands of smugglers.”