Ruben Chandrasekar, executive director for the Baltimore office of the International Rescue Committee, said that the resettlement agency is submitting hundreds of applications on behalf of parents hopeful about bringing their children to the U.S.
USCIS' website wrote that the CAM Program started accepting applications from qualifying parents in the U.S. on December 1, 2014. However, over 5,000 children and teens who have applied are still waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to get in touch with them. Only 90 children have been interviewed thus far.
Applications can only be filed by parents living in the U.S. legally. Children must be 21 or younger, unmarried, and residing in one of the qualifying countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These three nations are teeming with gang violence.
According the U.S. government more than 60,000 unaccompanied children from those countries crossed the border into the U.S. in this fiscal year. Others were detained and deported, while some of them have no choice but to go through a complicated legal system with no guidance. Plenty of these children made use of smugglers to assist in their journey. There are also times when the children were abused along the way or sold into slavery, and some did not arrive to the border.
Chandrasekar said that the CMA Program is not a solution to the immigrant problem, but it will eventually help in reuniting families and aid children experiencing violence. He also added that the State Department should "strengthen the program so that parents living here with status can apply for their children as quickly as possible," noted.
State Department officials said that they are getting ready to interview about 530 children in the coming months for possible resettlement in the U.S.
The program permits children a right to apply for citizenship if a special refugee status was granted to them.
Simon Henshaw, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, said that the program's preliminary slow progress is partially because of the fact that many of the applications were submitted only in the past few months.
"What it does do is it reunifies families, which is a bedrock principal of U.S. immigration policy," Henshaw continued. "We're very happy to bring children out of danger and see this program continue."