During his first hours in office President Joe Biden immediately made clear that this administration wants to increase significantly the number of migrants who come to the United States, including through reviving the Central American Minors (CMA) program.
The CAM program uses relatives and even un-related “sponsors” to allow migrants 18 or younger to come into the U.S. under the premise of family reunification. Biden’s move will reverse former President Donald Trump’s successful immigration policies that included building 450-miles of wall and stemming the flow of illegal immigration over the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
The forward to the bill said:
President Biden is sending a bill to Congress on day one to restore humanity and American values to our immigration system. The bill provides hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity to earn citizenship.
The bill promises to “address the root causes” of people leaving home to come to America and “prioritizes keeping families together,” even if blood relation is not required to be considered “family.”
“The bill creates an earned path to citizenship for our immigrant neighbors, colleagues, parishioners, community leaders, friends, and loved ones—including Dreamers and the essential workers who have risked their lives to serve and protect American communities,” Biden said referring to resurrecting Barack Obama Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty executive order protecting people in the country illegally.
The plan for the CAM says:
Start from the source. The bill codifies and funds the President’s $4 billion four-year inter-agency plan to address the underlying causes of migration in the region, including by increasing assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, conditioned on their ability to reduce the endemic corruption, violence, and poverty that causes people to flee their home countries. It also creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection, including by establishing Designated Processing Centers throughout Central America to register and process displaced persons for refugee resettlement and other lawful migration avenues—either to the United States or other partner countries. The bill also re-institutes the Central American Minors program to reunite children with U.S. relatives and creates a Central American Family Reunification Parole Program to more quickly unite families with approved family sponsorship petitions.
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) January 21, 2021
But according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CSI), speculation about Biden’s plan is that it amounts to an open-the-back-door policy:
One program in connection with border crossings, however, is probably set to be revived quickly by the Biden administration. The Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole program, launched by the Obama administration in 2014, expanded in 2016 by that same administration, and terminated in 2018 by the Trump administration, is likely to be reinstated in early 2021. The Biden administration immigration bill proposes to do just that, but since CAM was originally set up by the Obama administration via executive action, it could be restarted whatever happens to the bill in Congress.
The Central American Minors program was initially set up to provide certain minors (later expanded to include adults) in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered, while still in their home country, for refugee resettlement in the United States. Individuals found ineligible for refugee status were considered for the possibility of entering the United States under parole. Those who could not be processed in their own countries had the opportunity to be transferred to Costa Rica under the Protection Transfer Arrangement (PTA) — mostly funded by the United States — before being resettled here. Unlike CAM, the Trump administration did not terminate PTA.
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