Feds expand refugee program for undocumented children

Central American children's caregivers can apply for refugee status

Guatemalan migrant Gladys Chinoy, 14, right, waits with more than 500 other migrants, many traveling with small children, beside the stuck freight train on which they were traveling, outside Reforma de Pineda, Mexico, June 20. (Associated Press)

MIAMI – The caregivers of children who arrive from Central America and have a documented parent living in the United States will be able to apply for refuge under a program expansion, according to a federal government announcement on Tuesday. 

Homeland Security announced the Central American Minors program expansion in partnership with Costa Rica and the United Nations. 

"This will increase the number of individuals to whom we are able to provide humanitarian protection, while combating human smuggling operations," Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said.  

The U.S. will transfer applicants to Costa Rica while they are considered for refugee protection in the United States. Under the new rules, biological parents and caregivers can also apply for the humanitarian protection.

The program expansion comes with the peaked influx of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. 

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