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US settles Central American children's lawsuit, paving way for reunions

Kartikay Mehrotra and Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Trump administration and attorneys for a dozen Central American children reached a deal that could open the door to 2,714 children being reunited with their families in the U.S.

The U.S. Justice Department and attorneys for the kids agreed to make permanent a court's temporary injunction issued March 1 that had blocked the government from eliminating a program offering safe passage for child refugees from Central America to reunite with their parents.

The government must produce a reunification plan by April 18 and waived its rights to appeal the court's March injunction, according to the agreement filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco. The proposed settlement needs to be approved by a judge.

The Central Americans Minors parole program was established in 2014 in response to children fleeing danger in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and arriving at the southern U.S. border. It allowed parents living legally in the U.S. to apply for refugee status for their children and pay their plane fares to fly to the states to avoid the often perilous overland journey.

Under the program, if immigrant children were denied refugee status, they were automatically given temporary permission to live in the U.S. for humanitarian or public interest reasons. The administration abruptly terminated the program in August 2017, canceling conditional approvals for almost 3,000 children and related family members, including those who'd already paid for air travel, according to a lawsuit brought on behalf of minors who sought entry to the U.S.

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