Border Surge: Obama Admin. Expands Program To Bring Central Americans to the U.S.

A boy from Honduras watches a movie at a detention facility run by the U.S. Border Patrol
File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

In response to the ongoing surge in illegal immigration from Central America, the Obama Administration is expanding its already controversial program to bring would-be illegal immigrants to the United States as refugees and parolees.

The State Department says it is growing the list of aliens eligible for the administration’s existing Central American Minors program. The CAM program grants certain immigrant parents —  who are largely ineligible for family reunification programs, like illegal immigrants granted amnesty — the ability to bring their unmarried children (under the age of 21) or legal spouse and child who currently live in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador to the U.S.

Under the changes to the CAM program announced Tuesday, the menu of Central American relatives for whom immigrants in the U.S. may petition to bring to the U.S. is larger. Lawful permanent residents, and those with temporary protected status, parole, withholding of removal, deferred action, and deferred enforced departure may now petition to have their children over the age of 21; the in-country biological parent of a qualified child; and caregivers of their minor children who are related to them.

“As the United States has made clear in the past, we are committed to protecting Central Americans at risk and expanding resettlement opportunities in the region,” the State Department said in a statement to the media. “The steps taken today, and over the past year, are another example of the creative solutions being taken across the federal government to make progress on this issue. ”

Republicans and immigration hawks have blasted the CAM program as another Obama Administration effort to circumvent Congress and flout immigration law while adding to the ongoing border surge.

Following the announced expansion, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) doubled down in the criticism calling the program expansion “simply a continuation of the government-sanctioned border surge.”

“Tens of thousands of unlawful immigrants continue to arrive at the Southwest border to benefit from the President’s lax immigration enforcement, and now many more can simply use this government-run program to come here,” he said. “By allowing unlawful immigrants to benefit from this program, the Obama Administration undermines the integrity of our immigration system and the rule of law, and makes the system unfair for those who seek to come to the United States legally.”

As Goodlatte noted, parole is intended to be used on a case-by-case basis, however, the administration plans to use it for those Central Americans who would be otherwise unqualified to come to the U.S. as refugees.

“Rather than take the steps necessary to end the ongoing crisis at the border, the Obama Administration perpetuates it by abusing a legal tool meant to be used sparingly to bring people to the United States and instead applying it to the masses in Central America,” he added.


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