The White House is ending the Central American Minors or CAM program that allowed vulnerable children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to apply for refugee status in the United States before leaving home.
The administration will phase out the CAM program during the fiscal year 2018, according to a report provided to Congress and obtained by Reuters.
That report also sets the overall refugee cap for the year at 45,000, a ceiling that keeps admissions to their lowest level in over a decade.
The CAM program started at the end of 2014 under Obama administration as a response to the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and families fleeing violent crime and desperate conditions in Central America who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum in the United States.
The report said it was ending CAM “because the vast majority of individuals accessing the program were not eligible for refugee resettlement.”
“I think there is very little interest in understanding on the part of this administration as to who are refugees and our country’s commitment to protect people fleeing persecution,” said Karen Musalo, the director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California-Hastings.
The government will instead focus on “more targeted” refugee processing in Central America, working with the government of Costa Rica, the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration, the report said.