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First Central American Minor Refugee Welcomed by Institute

A young woman from El Salvador reunited with her parents in Minnesota earlier this month (after many years apart). She is the first participant resettled through the International Institute of Minnesota’s Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program and only the fourth in Minnesota.

The U.S. Department of State implemented the CAM Program in 2014. The program is intended to provide parents legally residing in the United States with a safe way of bringing their minor children to the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. This is an alternative to the dangerous journey sometimes undertaken by minors fleeing violence in these countries.

“We are honored to have helped this young woman reunite with her parents,” says Micaela Schuneman, Director of Refugee Services at the International Institute of Minnesota.  “As the violence in Central America increases, we are glad we can support a program that offers a safe pathway to the United States for children at risk.”

Once a child has been cleared for resettlement in the U.S., the Institute provides support for 90 days post-arrival. Assistance includes accessing food support and public benefits, medical assistance, and school enrollment.

The Institute is one of five agencies working with this program in the state. As of July 2016, the Institute has filed 40 CAM applications to reunite 76 children with their parents in Minnesota. The Institute hopes to raise awareness about this program to reach more eligible parents and safely bring more families back together.