USCCB Migration Chair Opposes Termination of Central American Minors (CAM) Program

November 9, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairof the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, expresseshis opposition to the Administration's decision to end refugee processing forindividuals in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who apply to enter the U.S.through the Central American Minors (CAM) program. Bishop Vasquez notes thatthe elimination of this program puts the lives of vulnerable children at riskfor greater harm and represents a step backwards in the prevention of irregularmigration.

Bishop Vásquez's full statement follows:

"I am deeply disappointed by the Administration'sdecision to terminate the entire CAM program. I have previously expressed disappointment when the parole option of theprogram was cancelled, and now disapprove all the more of the decision toeliminate the whole program. Especially troubling is the short cutoff date foraccepting CAM applications, which is barely 24 hours advance notice to serviceproviders. This decision of the Administration unnecessarily casts aside a provenand safe alternative to irregular and dangerous migration for Central Americanchildren.

Already, the end of the CAM parole program has causedheartbreaking family separation for families who have learned that their childhas no safe means of arriving to the United States. The end of the overall CAMprogram will sadly perpetuate more of the same family breakdown.

Pope Francis has called on us to protect migrantchildren, noting that 'among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerablegroup.' The CAM program, which included both refugee and parole options, shouldhave been maintained precisely because it provided a legal and organized wayfor children to migrate to the United States and reunify with families.Terminating the entire CAM program will neither promote safety for thesechildren nor help our government regulate migration.

We continue to prayand express our support for parents who endure anxiety and emotional hardshipknowing their children will continue to languish in violence; and to thechildren themselves, who will not be able to reunite and embrace theirparents."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Committee on Migration, MRS,Central American Minors program, CAM, violence, persecution, migrants, migrantchildren, parole program, migration.

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