Biden Administration Kicks Off Migrant Airlift Program to Reunite Central American Families

ICE officer with illegal immigrants on airplane.
AP File Photo

President Joe Biden’s deputies tell Central American migrants this week they will fly their children and other relatives over the U.S. border wall to reunite them with their families across the United States.

The administration’s pro-migration officials are offering U.S.-based adult migrants over 21 the taxpayer-funded favor to petition for their families to join them in the U.S. as part of Biden’s version of the Obama-era Central American Minors (CAM) program.

Biden’s CAM expanded the categories of migrants who may petition for their families from parents living in the U.S. legally to legal guardians, parents who have been granted emergency “parole,” deportation relief, and even adults with pending claims — not approved requests  — for asylum, among others.

Ivania (29, C) from Honduras checks-in for a flight with her family but without her 11-year-old son Jhowell, after being released from a Border Patrol holding center for illegal immigrants, at McAllen airport, Texas, on March 30, 2021. Jhowell first arrived to the US with his parents and two siblings aged 4 and 1, but the family was deported immediately to Mexico. They decided to try again, but to be successful they had to separate: the parents and small children crossed the Rio Grande border river first, and were allowed to enter because the children were less than seven years old. Jhowell had to travel alone. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Ivania (29, C) from Honduras checks-in for a flight with her family but without her 11-year-old son Jhowell, after being released from a Border Patrol holding center for illegal immigrants, at McAllen airport, Texas, on March 30, 2021. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

In a joint statement issued Monday, the Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS) charged with administering CAM, explained:

Eligibility to petition will now be extended to include legal guardians (in addition to parents) who are in the United States, pursuant to any of the following qualifying categories: lawful permanent residence; temporary protected status; parole; deferred action; deferred enforced departure; or withholding of removal. In addition, this expansion of eligibility will now include certain U.S.-based parents or legal guardians who have a pending asylum application or a pending U visa petition [granted to alleged victims of violence] filed before May 15, 2021.

Critics such as the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have described Biden’s new CAM as an expanded side door in immigration law employed by executive fiat to allow vast numbers of migrants into the U.S.

Samuel, his wife Dania and his son Daniel from Honduras embrace at LaGuardia airport in New York on March 30, 2021 after being separated for months. Dania and Daniel were released from a US government holding facility for illegal migrants seeking asylum in McAllen, Texas. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Samuel, his wife Dania, and his son Daniel from Honduras embrace at LaGuardia airport in New York on March 30, 2021, after being separated for months. Dania and Daniel were released from a US government-holding facility for illegal migrants seeking asylum in McAllen, Texas. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

DHS and the State Department declared in their statement:

We are proud to announce that the [Biden administration’s] CAM application has been approved. New applications will be accepted beginning September 14. Throughout August, resettlement support center partners were trained to support families during the process.

We are firmly committed to welcoming people to the United States with humanity and respect, and reuniting families. We are delivering on our promise to promote safe, orderly, and humane migration from Central America through this expansion of legal pathways to seek humanitarian protection in the United States.

In 2014, then-VP Biden announced the newly-established CAM program, launched in response to a surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing poverty and violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle region — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The initial intent of the program was to allow legal migrant parents in the U.S. to petition to have their unmarried minors under 21 join them to diminish the number of kids traveling alone. Under the program, the children would apply for refugee status and await the process in their home countries.

In 2016, the Obama-Biden team expanded in-country processing eligibility to married sons and daughters over 21 and their adult “caregiver” relatives, including grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. Obama officials also expanded the categories of the parents who may petition for their families to lawfully present adults.

In March, Dr. Nayla Rush, a senior researcher at CIS, explained that being “lawfully present” in the U.S. does not necessarily mean having legal 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 wrote in a report.

Migrants hold a demonstration demanding clearer United States migration policies, at San Ysidro crossing port in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on March 2, 2021. (Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

Migrants hold a demonstration demanding clearer United States migration policies, at San Ysidro crossing port in Tijuana, Mexico, on March 2, 2021. (Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump announced the end of the program in August 2017. The 2016 expansion created “a broader flow of family-chain migration to the U.S.,” Breitbart News’ John Binder explained that month.

In March, Biden revived the program and began taking a few months later to enhance it by reopening the cases that were closed under Trump and further expanding the categories of adult migrants who are now able to petition to be reunited with their relatives in the U.S.

After the Biden administration announced CAM’s revival, a State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News that it would maintain the Obama-era eligibility requirements and potentially build on them.

In June, Biden expanded the categories of adults eligible to petition for their relatives from lawfully present parents to mixed legal guardians and migrants waiting for the U.S. to process their asylum and U visa requests.

Even the left has conceded that CAM allows certain eligible migrants to fly their relatives into the U.S. as refugees on the American taxpayers’ dime.

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