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A federal court settlement on Friday paved the way for 2,700 Central American children whose parents are living legally in the U.S. to resume their applications for refugee status from their home countries and join their families.
The program, known as the Central American Minors program, began under then-President Barack Obama in 2014 but was put on hold by President Donald Trump in 2017. Over 1,300 minors had been admitted under the program, but about 2,700 additional minors had been only conditionally approved and had not yet traveled to the U.S. when the Trump administration rescinded the program.
The program was meant to allow a safe pathway for children to join their parents living legally in the U.S. without making the dangerous journey alone.
In the settlement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agreed to complete the processing of the thousands of children who were given conditional approval. They will also consider applications for children born later in the process who are classified as add-ons to the program.
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According to a statement from the International Refugee Assistance Project, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, “The government anticipates most applicants will be approved for parole and allowed to travel to the U.S.”
The settlement allows for the process to resume, which means that the children still need to be approved by a judge. In addition, the Trump administration has to file a detailed plan for processing the children by Thursday.
The case, known as is S.A. v. Donald Trump in the Northern District of California, was brought by 12 children and parent applicants of the Central American Minors Program and the immigrant advocacy group CASA.
“I am so happy at the news that the government will allow eligible children to come to the U.S. to fulfill their dreams of a better life without danger and fear, where they can study and try to have a better future," S.A., one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement released by the International Refugee Assistance Project.
"My heart jumps and cries for joy because there are so many who need to escape danger," S.A., said. "I have faith that I will be together with my daughter and grandson soon."
Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco ordered the Trump administration to continue processing the children who had been conditionally approved to be resettled in the U.S.
A spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that as a matter of policy, the agency could not comment on litigation.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to request for comment.