CAM Program Ends

The Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program, which allows for resettlement consideration for certain minors while still in their home country, ended earlier in November. The end of the program, which began under President Obama in 2014, means the Department of State (DoS) no longer accepts new CAM applications and plans to end review of pending applications at the end of January 2018.

Individuals who applied for the program by November 9 will still receive a review of their applications through Jan. 31, 208. Individuals who’ve met the November 9 deadline and whose applications aren’t reviewed by the end of January next year will receive a mailed notification with further instructions. Additionally, the Resettlement Support Centers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will continue pre-screening applicants who filed by the November 9 deadline. Requirements– DNA testing, security checks and medical exams and the medical examinations– remain the same.

CAM, established to allow refugee resettlement considerations for certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, initially included a parole portion of the program. With this, ineligible refugee-status individuals were passed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for parole consideration. The parole portion of the program ended in August 2017.

DoS, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence officials made the decision to end the entirety of the CAM program as part of a general overhaul of refugee vetting policies. The impetus behind the decision was made as part of an effort to “intensify screening in order to keep nefarious and fraudulent actors” out of the United States, according to an October DHS release.

At one point during the program, around 47,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border into the United States from Central America. At the time, President Obama called the influx a “humanitarian crisis” that must be addressed. In response, the Department of Justice developed a new $2 million legal aid program, the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated up to $2.28 billion for aid to immigrant minors through Health and Human Services and federal officials opened emergency shelters on military bases in California, Texas, and Oklahoma.