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The Central American Minors Program: Divisive Politics Furthering a Humanitarian Crisis 

Aidan Vu | June 21, 2022


In the United States, the issue of immigration has increasingly developed into being a major polarizing conflict. This problem has only escalated in its complexity with new presidents’ administrations, passing legislations, and the pandemic. With understanding the political component to the issue, it becomes a humanitarian issue for separated immigrant families. Divisive politics tear families. 

To specify, the Central American Minors or CAM Program permits those under 21 years of age from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to be with their family (who have legal status) in the United States rather than using human smuggling to illegally enter the country. The program had been created during the Obama administration in 2014 to help children in locations of dangerous conditions as according to the Migration Policy Institute’s publication titled “Relaunching the Central American Minors Program: Opportunities to Enhance Child Safety and Family Reunification”. The National Immigration Forum’s article “Fact Sheet: Central American Minors (CAM) Program” states that El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have increased in gang violence:

  • El Salvador increased in gang-related homicides by a factor of 10 from 2011 to 2014.

  • Honduras saw a 160% increase in gang-related homicides in 2014 and experienced the highest murder rate in the world.

  • Children who are looking to cross the United States’ border are experiencing extreme violence in which the CAM Program addresses.

And from then, the Trump administration had terminated the program in 2017 and the Biden administration relaunched it to a greater openness in 2021. 


However, earlier this year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with a few attorney generals across seven other states, had sued the Biden administration regarding the Central American Minors Program that the president relaunched. According to Paxton, this would’ve been the 20th lawsuit filed against President Biden on border and immigration policies. Paxton’s reasoning towards this was due to the idea that the program honors migrants “who break the law” as according to The Texas Tribune article “A Salvadoran woman in Texas has waited more than 20 years to reunite with her son. A lawsuit could keep them separated”.

This article also shines light onto the impact of this situation with the experiences of a migrant mother, who’s identified by her middle name as Jesús, attempting to reunite with her son in El Salvador. The CAM Program makes this possible, but with its corrugated history, including the pandemic, it has been postponed for years. Such delay has only deepened Jesús’ guilt and furthered her son’s time spent in an unsafe country. In point of fact, according to the National Immigration Forum’s article “Fact Sheet: Central American Minors (CAM) Program,” the Department of Homeland Security received 10,500 applications and only admitted 3,092 as refugees or parolees. An additional 2,500 individuals were granted parole but couldn’t travel to the United States due to the Trump administration. Jesus’ story showcases the immense damage of conflicting border and immigration policies to families in understanding their mental state of worry. 

Putting aside political differences on immigration, this situation roots a major humanitarian crisis that is destroying lives and families. The United States is built upon migrants from across the globe and a place of freedom that many do not have the privilege to in other nations. By restricting the access of the mission actions similar to the CAM Program, we are promoting the tearing of children from their own parents and undermining the whole existence of our nation. 


With all things considered, address your representatives to push for the CAM Program and help facilitate the joining of families escaping violence, inhabitability, and inhumanity.



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