DHS Ends the Central American Minors Parole Program

Department of Homeland Security no longer interested in offering special assistance to young people fleeing Central American violence to join family in the U.S.

An initiative called the Central American Minors Program (CAM) was created in 2014, as a response to concern about the numbers of Central American children traveling alone, without lawful immigration documents, in order to join family members in the United States. It was an in-country refugee and parole program meant to assist qualified young people who were living in the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.

Now, however, an important portion of that program has been ended, according to an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on August, 2017. (See the relevant Federal Register for details.)

Under the CAM program, numerous young people received either refugee status or, if they didn't meet the refugee standards, a more limited, temporary status called “parole” (which allows someone otherwise inadmissible to the U.S. to be let in regardless, on the basis of urgent humanitarian reasons or significant benefit to the U.S. public). Either grant allowed entry into the United States.

No, however, the Department of Homeland has, without forewarning, brought the parole portion of the program to an end. (It is still possible to apply for refugee status through CAM.)

What does this mean for young people who were already conditionally approved for parole under the CAM program but who have not yet traveled to the United States? Unfortunately, they will soon receive word that the program has been terminated and their conditional approval for parole has been rescinded. As a last possibility, they might want to apply for parole independently of the CAM program, as described in What Is Humanitarian Parole?

For young people who have already been paroled into the U.S. under the CAM Parole program, the prospects are better. They can keep their parole until it expires, unless some other grounds upon which to terminate it arises. They may also apply for re-parole (using USCIS Form I-131) before their current parole period expires or apply for any immigration status for which they are eligible.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages people in the U.S. with parole under the CAM program to submit any requests for re-parole at least 90 days before their expiration date. The agency says it plans to consider each request based on its individual merits and whether the applicant can show urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit in support of granting parole.

Effective Date: August 15, 2017.