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Press Release // Foster Care

Biden Administration to Restart Central American Minors Program

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LIRS Staff

March 10, 2021

Contact: Timothy Young | | 443-257-6310

Washington D.C. – The State Department announced the reopening of the Central American Minors, or CAM, program for children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The program, which ran from 2014 through 2017, was created to provide a safer process for vulnerable children fleeing violence to reunify with family in the U.S.

The program will be restarted in two phases.  The first phase will involve processing eligible applications that were closed when the program was terminated. This phase could benefit over 3,000 children that were awaiting processing when the program was abruptly terminated by the Trump administration in 2017.  The second phase will allow new application submissions – the State Department advised updated guidance is forthcoming.

The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving vulnerable immigrant children and families in the U.S.:

“The re-launch of this program is a welcome and promising development. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service was an implementing partner of the program before its abrupt cancellation, and its impact cannot be overstated. The program represents our nation’s bedrock principle of family unity put into practice. When families are together, America thrives.

We commend the Biden administration for taking compassionate, common-sense steps to streamline the process, make it safer and more efficient, and expand it to help more children and families. But there is much work ahead to rebuild the infrastructure of welcome – tragically, many of the local support sites who support these families were forced to shutter their doors due to the previous administration’s attack on immigration.

Restarting the program will have its challenges, but we are incredibly heartened by the new administration’s commitment to restoring humanitarian leadership and extending a helping hand to families in need. We look forward to working with the Biden administration to build on the success of the original program and further improve it to ensure more families have an opportunity to reunite with the support they need. We also look forward to the administration issuing a revised presidential determination for FY21, which would help thousands more families reunite.

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is one of the largest immigration and refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership working with and advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

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