Children looking to flee violence in Central America are no longer welcome to the U.S. after the Trump administration canceled another immigration program.
The Obama administration started the Central American Minors Program in 2014 after thousands of children were seeking safety inside the U.S.
Now that the program has been terminated a local group is continuing to fight for those kids safety.
“We were just seeing larger and larger numbers of kids who were basically being trafficked into the U.S.,” Emily Crane Linn, the Resettlement Director at Canopy NWA said.
Canopy NWA works tirelessly to bring refugees to safety here in Northwest Arkansas.
“Gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has just escalated dramatically and grown and so they target young teenagers,” Linn said.
According to the latest data by the CDC, increased instability and the growing gang violence pushed more than 23,000 children to flee to safety in the U.S.
Under the Central American Minors Program, parents who are legal in the U.S. could be reunited with their children by applying for refugee status.
To date Canopy has reunited four families before the programs termination.
“The families that we worked with to apply for their kids and those applications that are still in process, they’re obviously really anxious,” Linn said.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, many of these minors would flee their home countries to escape abduction, rape or other exploitation, all to be with their family and free from danger.
But now they are concerned about the future of children.
“There’s a whole lot more families out there who would qualify for this and whose kids would really benefit and now we’re not going to get that opportunity anymore,” Linn said.
Canopy says shutting the program down will not fix the problem but only make it worse.
However, any family who applied to the refugee program before midnight Thursday night will still be considered to seek safety here in the U.S.