Several other leading immigrant and human rights organization responded positively to CAM’s expansion. In a statement, Human Rights First refugee protection director Eleanor Acer called it “an important step in the right direction that should provide a critical pathway to protection for some at-risk children. U.S. agencies should process these children’s cases quickly and ramp up support for efforts to protect children in danger as they await completion of their processing.”
America’s Voice executive director Frank Sharry said the move was “exactly what America should be doing,” and added that “expanding legal migration pathways from the region is an integral component of a workable regional strategy.” CAM’s expansion follows Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent trip to Central America to address human mobility from the region to the U.S. While the vice president acknowledged many families are forced to flee their homes, she also made a widely criticized remark that Refugees International said possibly “undermine[d] the right to seek asylum under U.S. law.”
“The expansion of CAM is a significant part of the drive to expand legal migration pathways from the region,” Sharry continued. “It will allow kids fleeing violence to apply for rescue and resettlement nearer to where they live, rather than having to make the dangerous journey to our southern border. Those who qualify will arrive in America on airplanes and with a secure immigration status to join loving families who will care for them.”
The Biden administration announced in March that it would be fully reopening the program, after it was terminated by the previous administration in 2017. That administration’s decision stranded nearly 3,000 children who had already been approved to rejoin parents here. Biden’s State Department said in March that it would begin prioritizing children whose applications were closed at the time of the program’s termination.
Tuesday’s announcement also expands the people who may petition for a child to join them in the U.S. to legal guardians, as well as parents or legal guardians who have pending immigration cases. Young said that the administration should also allow grandparents, adult siblings, and other close family members to petition for children, as well as expand the policy to include kids who have no relatives here. “Resettlement of children should be grounded in protection, not family ties,” Young said.
“In contrast to Republicans who are politicizing and weaponizing forced migration from Central America in order to exploit racism and xenophobia in the 2022 midterm campaign, the Biden-Harris administration is taking concrete steps to rescue children in danger, facilitate humane and orderly migration, and turn the page on the unmatched cruelty and chaos of the Trump years,” Sharry said. “This is a very important step and a very encouraging sign.”
In just one example of cynical Republican stunts, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is apparently claiming he wants to finish the previous president’s stupid border wall, as well as requiring local law enforcement to detain migrants who have crossed the border. The idea has been slammed as a “ridiculous piece of political theater.” Abbott is also threatening to displace thousands of asylum-seeking kids currently in U.S. custody as they wait to be placed with sponsors. “Can Texas Republicans sink any lower than attacking vulnerable children?” asked El Paso Rep. Veronica Escobar.