Until it was terminated in 2017, the US government’s Central American Minors (CAM) program allowed children in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to reunite safely with one or both of their parents who were already lawfully present in the United States. The CAM application process was lengthy and onerous. However, by the end of 2016 the program had allowed approximately 3,000 Central American minors to reunite with their parents by being processed in their home countries and flown safely to the US rather than making the long and dangerous trip to the southern US border.
A lawyer’s job in this situation is to protect those who have a legitimate right to enter the United States. The brochure acts as a pathway for these individuals.
Art Scavone, partner, New York
When the program ended, the status of approximately 2,700 minors who had been conditionally approved was left in limbo. In March 2019, a lawsuit against the US government challenged the termination of their status. The resulting settlement established a procedure for these minors to complete the process.
To bring clarity to an uncertain situation, we have been working with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice to provide information and resources to the families of these minors who want to reunite in the US. New York partner Art Scavone, counsel Claire Watson in New York, associate Alejandra Berlioz in Miami and legal assistant Daniela De la Cruz in New York, working with Honduran law firm Mayora & Mayora, S.C.’s office in Tegucigalpa, took on the task of preparing a brochure for the affected minors from Honduras.
The brochure includes information on what is required to leave their home country and clarifies how to confirm a minor is still eligible under the CAM program. For example, a minor who has subsequently married is no longer eligible for the program. But the precise definition of “marriage” under the program and under Honduran law needed to be examined since it is not uncommon for Honduran couples to enter into a common law form of marriage.
In collaboration with the Vance Center, IRAP and Mayora & Mayora, S.C., we took the brochure through multiple iterations. It was important to make the information as accessible as possible for the target audience of young people with no legal background. Initial drafts were prepared in English before translation into Spanish, the design of the brochure was handled by the White & Case creative team and we printed the brochures in-house.
According to Art, what is central to this project and other immigration pro bono work he has done is that “reasonable processes are put in place for refugees and other immigrants to enter the country legally, and that these processes are working the way they were intended to work. A lawyer’s job in this situation is to protect those who have a legitimate right to enter the US. Ultimately, the brochure acts as a pathway for those Central American minors who were left in limbo by the program’s termination by answering their questions and helping them to identify and access resources that will allow them to move safely and legally to the US to reunite with their parents.”
Image: // Arcola, Mississippi, USA, 2014
© Steve McCurry / Magnum Photos
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