Agreement Allows 2,700 Children in Central America to Join Parents in U.S.

A federal court settlement announced on Friday would allow almost 2,700 children living in Central America to safely reunite with their parents, who are living in the United States under protected status.

The settlement between the families and the Trump administration affects children who had been conditionally approved by the government to join their parents before the White House canceled the Central American Minors program in August 2017.

The program began under the Obama administration in 2014. It allowed the children of parents who are lawfully in the United States to apply for permanent residency as refugees. Many of those parents hold temporary protected status, which allows migrants from countries that have experienced natural disasters, longstanding unrest or conflict to remain in the United States.

Without the program, children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras would have had to travel through dangerous conditions to reach the United States border and apply for refugee status.

“When you’re a refugee, you typically have to come to the U.S. border to request protection via our asylum system,” said Justin Cox, a lawyer with the International Refugee Assistance Project, which helped represent the families. The Central American Minors program was designed as a workaround to reunite children with their parents, by allowing the kids to apply from their home countries.

Four families whose children had applied to the program and been conditionally approved filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration after it was canceled. They were joined by CASA, a Maryland-based immigration advocacy group.

The nearly 2,700 children covered by the settlement had been conditionally approved to join at least one of their parents in the United States, according to Mr. Cox.

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