Importing Central American Children of Illegal Aliens

The Obama administration’s response to being blindsided by last year’s surge in illegal alien minors (or at least who claimed to be minors) from Central America was two-fold. First, the administration announced that the minors would not be given legal status and would be sent home. After that idle threat lost credibility by the failure to follow through, the next ploy was to announce a new program for opening a new door for the legal entry of Central American minors separated from their illegal alien parents in the United States by treating them as refugees or using parole to admit them.

The idea was to reduce the illegal flow by offering a legal route that was safer and less expensive. To qualify for that program, the parent(s) in the United States have to have some legal presence (but not legal residence). That condition applies to a large number of Central Americans in the United States as a result of the long-standing Temporary Protected Status (since 1998 for Honduras and 2001 for El Salvador) and other forms of relief from deportation.

To make the program work, the administration had to authorize granting refugee status to persons who had not fled their country, the normal international standard. The applicants then had to make a case that if they were not granted refugee status they would be subject to persecution, or at least have a well-founded fear of persecution. The administration knew, however, that few of the youth would be able to meet that standard. It, therefore, provided another opportunity. Those not qualifying as refugees would be considered for grants of parole.

The difference between these two new programs is that, if the applicant is accepted as a refugee, taxpayer-funded transportation is provided and a large package of costly resettlement benefits are made available. Those granted parole have to pay their own way and are not eligible for the welfare programs.

Representatives of USCIS and the State Department in a conference call on October 14 disclosed that so far about 4,300 affidavits from parents seeking to have children join them have been filed. None of these Central Americans have yet entered the United States. They provided an estimate that the processing time for these programs would probably be six to nine months.

The U.S. government has ceded responsibility for determining eligibility for the new program to the International Organization for Migration. The first batch of  90 Central American youth in have been interviewed among. Only 12 percent were found eligible for refugee status and 84 percent eligible for parole. The remainder is under review.

It seems questionable that this program will have a significant impact on the illegal flow given its slowness and the small chance of winning the refugee sweepstakes.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    Surprised at the border crash is a lie. These people are responding to Obama’s cheap election year stunt of promising amnesty and with a “Dreamer” executive order. These Aztec and Maya Indians live in countries ruled by dictators and think if Obama says so, being a dictator, it will be so. They are delusional. Obama is in court on executive over-reach as he has no authority to write the rules. He is counting on a delay on ruling which will then go to the Supreme Court giving him time to slip out of office and let someone else take the heat for his pack of lies.

    • avatar

      So far, the billionaires have proved THEY CAN! The politicians DO NOT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE ANYMORE! From what I am reading in these types of sites, the American public is VERY ANGRY! I am afraid something is going to happen and it’s not going to be good! Another revolution? I am NOT CONDONING IT! I am just saying I think another one is coming!! I think it will start with rioting in the streets just like Greece and get worse from there. HOPE I AM WRONG!!

  2. avatar

    Why is an international organization determining who can enter the United States gets into the United States and how? It is time to get back to the basics.

    • avatar

      VERY GOOD QUESTION!!! Trump would PUT AN END TO THAT GARBAGE! He would also put an end to Sanctuary cities (which the government just had a chance to do AND WOULD NOT!!), Anchor babies (Which is why the pregnant women jump the fence illegally so they can pop out that bambino and have POOF an automatic American citizen!), etc…..
      Does everyone her know that Now ILLEGAL ALIENS of college age are getting “financial assistance”. They are getting grants! That is FREE MONEY FROM THE GOVT. THEY DO NOT HAVE TO PAY BACK!! Of course courtesy of the LEGAL AMERICAN TAX PAYER!!! i have TWO children in college at the same time. They can NOT GET A GRANT because I make too much money. But MY TAX DOLLARS ARE GOING TO PAY FOR AN ILLEGAL ALIENS COLLEGE EDUCATION!!!!!! INFURIATING!!!! BURNING LEGAL AMERICAN’S HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS LIKE THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. avatar

    Ultimately it all ends with more and ever more people coming here. An agreement in 1994 between the Clinton administration and Castro to allow in 20,000 Cubans per year was supposed to end illegal entry and establish an “orderly flow”. Instead, a lot went to Mexico and made their way to the border where they claimed refugee status. Many more came for “visits” and then never returned home. Those were on top of the 20,000.

    This will be no different. It’s the equivalent of piling money at the door of the bank in the hopes the robbers won’t come inside. The only way to stop it is to say no.