By Beatriz Pascual Macías
Washington, Mar 10 (efe-epa).- United States President Joe Biden’s administration is to reinstate a program that will allow some Central American children to reunite with their families in the US.
The program, which will seek to curb the influx of unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border, was created by former president Barack Obama in 2014 and stopped by the last president, Donald Trump, in 2017.
“Today, we are announcing the restarting of the Central American Minors program for children to be reunited with a parent who is legally in the United States,” coordinator for the southern border, Ambassador Roberta Jacobson, said Wednesday in a press conference at the White House.
“This program was ended abruptly by the previous administration, leaving around 3,000 children, already approved for travel, stranded.”
Through the program, the Biden administration will reunite children under 21 years of age residing in Central America, and who meet the requirements, with their parents legally residing in the US.
Washington will start with reviewing the 3,000 applications that were approved in 2017 to see what their current status is.
Specifically, the authorities will coordinate with the resettlement agencies in each country to verify that the parents who requested asylum for their children are still legally residing in the US and to confirm they want to proceed with the application.
Those first contacts with parents could begin at the earliest on Mar. 15, the State Department said in a statement.
However, Jacobson kept repeating the warning that no one should make “the dangerous trip to enter the US in an irregular fashion” and that “the border is not open.”
In February, US border agents detained 100,441 migrants who were trying to enter illegally, which was almost three times the number registered in the same month last year, when 36,687 were arrested, according to figures released Wednesday by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Of the migrants detained last month, 9,500 were minors who undertook the dangerous journey north alone.
When intercepted, migrants are detained at a CBP facility but, in the case of minors, the law establishes that they cannot be held for more than three days.
However, the centers are so collapsed that there is no time to process the minors and they are being detained an average of four days, according to documents that CNN had access to Wednesday.
When asked about this, Jacobson said that the objective of the government is to implement a more humane immigration policy, in contrast to Trump’s hard line.
For example, Biden ended Trump’s Remain in Mexico program, which forced tens of thousands of people from Central America and other countries to wait in Mexican territory for the resolution of their asylum petitions filed with the US.
Jacobson said Wednesday that the country has already admitted 1,400 of those immigrants.
Biden’s job is not easy – he wants to respect the basic rights of migrants and refugees, but that is causing some human smugglers to take advantage of the opportunity to do business and bring more migrants to the border, said Jacobson. EFE-EPA