The Trump administration must come up with a plan for 2,714 Central American children and family members who were left in limbo — some facing life-threatening danger — when the government in 2017 abruptly ended a program designed to offer them safe passage to reunite with their relatives already living in the U.S.
A federal judge concluded Friday the government provided no reason — other than arguing it would be a burden on the Department of Homeland Security — why it shouldn’t process applications for children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who’d already been conditionally cleared to travel to the U.S. before the administration mass-rescinded the approvals in August 2017.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said the government doesn’t need to reinstate the Central American Minors program going forward — as requested by the child advocacy group that sued the administration. But she found plenty of evidence that the children who’ve been separated from parents for at least 18 months face horrific dangers in their home countries, from beatings to rape to murder.
The evidence from El Salvador included allegations that a father was murdered as he picked his children up from school and that young girls were told they must “date” a gang member or her family would disappear, according to the ruling.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that administers the program, told the judge this week that it’s “undergoing a reconsideration process that will address those individuals who had been conditionally approved.” Homeland Security officials didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours Friday to a request for comment.