WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration announced Tuesday that today it will end part of a program that provides certain young Central American migrants the opportunity to apply for refugee status and reunite with their parents.
This change to the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole program will affect thousands of children who were given conditional parole status, putting them in danger of family separation and violence in countries where they could be targeted.
The program allows certain individuals from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala under age 21 to apply for refugee status if they have at least one parent with legal status in the U.S. The change would end the possibility of humanitarian parole for individuals who are not eligible for refugee status.
The Department of Homeland Security announced that it was taking away humanitarian parole in response to Trump’s January executive order on interior immigration enforcement. Parole had offered these individuals the ability to live and work in the country, but once their period of parole expires now, they likely will lose that conditional status.
The announcement comes as more immigrants — many of whom are from Central America — are being found in semitrailers in Texas, indicating that many are falling victim to human smuggling while fleeing violent conditions.
“Our immigration policies should not harm children who are fleeing violence and persecution in some of the most dangerous places in the world,” said Cathleen Farrell, Director of Communications at the National Immigration Forum. “Taking away safe, practical ways to enter the country legally amounts to encouraging illegal immigration. We should be encouraging family unification and children’s safety.”