Center for Immigration Studies: ‘No Guarantee’ Biden’s Migrant Airlift Program Will Help Fix Border Crisis

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U.S. President Joe Biden wants to expand Obama-era programs that offer to fly Central American migrants directly into the United States, an immigration expert told Breitbart News this week.

However, the Obama-era two-in-one Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole program may not ease the border crisis, Dr. Nayla Rush, a senior researcher a the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told Breitbart News.

This month, the Biden administration revived the CAM program ended by former President Donald Trump in 2017.

In an email statement to Breitbart News, a spokesperson for the State Department, which administers CAM, cited section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. section 1157 as the legal authority for CAM.

Rush told Breitbart News that legal authority only applies to the Refugee part of CAM, not the Parole part.

“The Parole part could be sued,” she added. “The Refugee processing is legal. “However, the new proposed Central American plan, as introduced in [Biden’s January 2020] Immigration Bill, will only have one program for refugees.”

“The Biden administration seeks to replace the Obama-era two-in-one refugee/parole approach with a new three-part version of CAM, with three distinct programs with three specific protection schemes, Rush noted.

This expansion is included in the comprehensive amnesty and migration-expansion bill announced by Biden on January 20, which provides a window into what the president plans to do with CAM, the CIS expert noted.

In describing the three programs under the new CAM, she said, “The ‘Central American Refugee Program’ will give access to ‘refugee resettlement;’ the ‘Central American Family Reunification Parole Program’ will give access to ‘parole;’ and the ‘Central American Minors Program’ will give access to a new ‘special immigrant” status.'”

According to Rush, Biden’s CAM version will provide access to permanent residence in the United States.

Biden wants to expand CAM to allow vast numbers of migrants from Central America to legally enter the country via expanded side doors in current immigration law.

Breitbart News also spoke to Rush about a March 24 CIS report she authored on what Biden plans to do with CAM.

In the report, titled Biden’s Plan for Central American Migrants: Fly Them Straight to the U.S., Rush noted:

The question remains: Will reopening in-country processing (or what I have called the “back door”) convince people to apply for a ticket instead of simply showing up at the door? This disincentivizing strategy did not seem to work for the Obama administration; it may not for this one either. Biden’s plan may be more elaborate than Obama’s, but there is no guarantee it will help resolve the ongoing border crisis.

Obama-Biden administration officials launched CAM in 2014. In 2016, the Obama administration expanded eligibility beyond “minor children” to adult sons and daughters of U.S.-based parents as well as adult “caregivers,” including grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles.

The Trump administration terminated the program in 2017, but now President Joe Biden plans to rebuild and expand it.

“The Central American Minors (CAM) program provides the opportunity to certain qualified children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to apply for refugee status [or parole] if they have one or more parents lawfully present in the United States,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News.

“Certain qualifying family members of those children may also be eligible for CAM processing,” the spokesperson acknowledged.

Rush from CIS explained that being “lawfully present” does not necessarily mean having “lawful status.”

“Most of the parents making use of the program [under Obama] were illegal immigrants who were ‘lawfully present’ because they had received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED),” she noted in her report.

Referring to the expansion of CAM eligibility requirements, the State Department spokesperson noted that former President Barack Obama expanded the eligibility categories in 2016 to include certain relationships when accompanied by a qualifying child.

The spokesperson described those relationships as “children of the U.S.-based lawfully present parent who were married and/or over the age of 21; the in-country biological parents of the qualifying child; or a caregiver of the qualifying child who was related to either the U.S.-based lawfully-present parent or qualifying child.”

Unlike Obama’s CAM, which waited for Central Americans to express interest in emigrating to the United States, Biden’s revamped version will proactively seek out foreigners to bring into communities across the country, Rush wrote in the CIS report.

Despite the changes, “the rationale is the same: Don’t come here illegally because we will design in-country processing programs to get you in legally,” she added.

“That was, in essence, DHS [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ recent message to Central Americans rushing to the Southern border when he asked them to ‘wait,'” Rush also wrote.

The Biden administration hopes that expanding the CAM will allow it to accept millions of migrants by essentially turning “illegal entries into legal ones,” Rush indicated.

“What the Biden administration meant by ‘wait, don’t come now,’ is really, ‘don’t come this way, we are designing legal pathways that will allow us to fly you here directly,'” Rush noted in the report.

President Biden expects CAM to allocate U.S. taxpayer-funded resources again to fly illegal aliens directly from Central America into the United States to relieve them of the burden of a harrowing and dangerous journey.

“This humanitarian program discourages minors and families from making the risky journey to the U.S. border by offering the alternative of a safe and legal pathway,” the spokesperson from State said about CAM.

Reviving and expanding CAM is also intended to “ease pressure at the southern border” where “resources are overwhelmed” by the surge of migrants predominantly from the Northern Triangle, she added.

The Northern Triangle is a region in Central America that encompasses El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

On March 10, the U.S. Department of State, which administers CAM, announced the program’s revival.

“We are expanding legal pathways to enter the United States by reopening the Central American Minors (CAM) program,” read a statement from State.

Rush explained to Breitbart News that the Biden administration intends to reopen CAM in two phases.

“The first will process eligible applications that were closed when the program was terminated in 2017, and the second will begin to accept new applications with updated guidance to follow,” she said.

Rush noted, “Are we certain these individuals are still in need of protection four or more years later? And if they were at risk of harm in their own countries since 2017 (or earlier), how did they manage to get by all those years?”

President Biden has already directed the Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS) to initiate the first phase.

“Eligibility will remain the same [as it was under former President Barack Obama] in the first phase of the CAM restart,” the State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News. “We have not yet determined whether eligibility will be further expanded in the second phase when new applications will be accepted.”

Rush described Biden’s CAM as “an expansion of in-country processing of asylum seekers. Except that his new programs are mainly for non-refugees.”

“Any individual can apply for the refugee status under Biden’s Central American Refugee Program,” she added. “No sponsoring parents are needed.”

Biden may also extend the program to all of Central America at the Secretary of State’s discretion.

Furthermore, “Expedited processing of applications and requests” can “be provided in emergency situations, for humanitarian reasons, or if the secretary of State otherwise determines that circumstances warrant expedited treatment,” Rush said of Biden’s CAM.

President Biden can implement his CAM version’s refugee and family reunification components by executive fiat, as his old boss Obama did in 2014.

However, Rush said that adding the “Central American Minors Program” component will require legislative action.

Courts may also seek to prevent Biden from implementing his version of CAM.

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