The Biden administration announced that it plans to expand a program designed to let children and teenagers from Central America come to the U.S. legally. This announcement comes during a period marked by very high numbers of minors crossing over the southern border illegally. The situation at the southern border has been a contributing factor for stalled progress on many of President Biden’s other immigration proposals.
The newest expansion plan is part of the administration’s effort to find more pathways for Central Americans to migrate legally. The plan could potentially make tens of thousands of minors newly eligible to participate in the program, according to state department officials. That would allow them to board flights to the U.S. with government permission.
The Central American Minors program, started by the Obama administration in 2014, applies to people under the age of 21 coming from the so-called Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which over the past decade have sent a majority of asylum-seeking migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border. The Obama administration created the program in response to the first wave of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally, to offer them a safer alternative to reach the U.S. Former President Donald Trump terminated the program in 2017, saying it was an immigration pathway that had been created without congressional approval. President Biden restarted it March 10.