One of the factors contributing to the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is the influx of immigrants from Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, who are seeking refuge. In recent months, the Biden administration has made various efforts to address this crisis. Most recently, the administration announced the reinstatement of the Central American Minors (CAM) program with expanded eligibility criteria. As a result, parents and legal guardians of children in Central America may have more options for securing their legal immigration to the U.S.
The CAM program began during the Obama administration and allowed certain qualifying parents with Central American citizenship to apply for legal refugee status for their qualifying children. Since the program’s inception, parents were eligible to apply if:
They were citizens of El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala.
They were at least 18 years old.
They had legal status in the United States, including lawful permanent residence, temporary protected status, and other forms of temporary status, including parole or deferred action.
Their children were unmarried, under the age of 21, and located in El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala.
Their children were eligible for refugee status based on persecution in their country of residence.
The U.S. has recently begun processing existing applications and accepting new applications. Parents who meet the above criteria are still eligible to apply, but applications have also been opened to new categories of immigrants, including:
Legal guardians who have legal status in the U.S.
Parents and legal guardians who have a pending application for their own asylum in the U.S. A person may be eligible for asylum if they have been the victim of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, or political or group affiliation.
Parents and legal guardians who have a pending application for a U visa. A person may be eligible for a U visa if they have suffered mental or physical abuse in connection to certain kinds of crimes, and they are willing to cooperate with law enforcement to help with the prosecution of the offender.
The Biden administration hopes that the expanded eligibility will lead to more parents pursuing legal immigration for their children, rather than encouraging their children to make the dangerous trip to the southern border.
If you are the parent or legal guardian of a child in Central America and you want to bring them to the U.S. safely and legally, the experienced Illinois immigration lawyers at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices can help. We can also help you apply for your own asylum or U visa. Contact us today at 630-932-9100 to schedule a free consultation.
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