By: Chloe Shiras, Staff
On July 18th, 2017 an alert popped up on my computer; a new case had been scheduled to travel. Finally, Marianela’s son, Alex, would be coming to the United States. I eagerly called Marianela to inform her that her 11 year old son would be arriving in just two weeks. As I informed Marianela of the good news, she shrieked with excitement and the tears masked her words of gratitude.
Marianela had been waiting for this news for 5 years. She was forced to leave her son with his grandmother in El Salvador in search for a better life for her family in the United States. Marianela was only able to travel home to visit a couple of times and had not seen her son in 3 years.
Since arriving in the U.S., Marianela has built a successful life for herself and patiently awaited the day her son would join her in a safe, loving environment. She wanted to give him a childhood free from the gang violence that persisted back home. LSS/NCA helped Marianela prepare for Alex’s arrival and continues to support them as they begin their new life together in Virginia. Alex is thrilled to be reunited with his mother and will complete his first year of school this coming spring.
Alex was able to travel to the U.S. as a refugee through the Central American Minors (CAM) program facilitated through LSS/NCA. The CAM program provided qualified children a safe alternative to the dangerous journey that many Central American minors are forced to take each year. LSS/NCA helped protect these children at risk of harm and death by assisting lawfully present parents in the United States to formally apply and request refugee status for their children still abroad in dangerous situations.
Unfortunately, on Nov. 9, 2017, the Department of State stopped accepting new applications for the Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program. The CAM program was established in 2014 to provide certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras the opportunity to be considered, while still in their home country, for refugee resettlement in the United States. The administration’s decision to terminate the CAM refugee program was made as part of the U.S. government review of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for FY 2018 which indicated that people from these locations are no longer eligible for refugee status. As a result, more than 2,000 applications will be left unreviewed leaving thousands of youth in harms way.