(Rachel Stoltzfoos) Potentially millions of current and former illegal immigrants now have the opportunity to fly their children to the U.S. with taxpayer dollars.
Once they arrive, they will be eligible for benefits including a free education, healthcare and food stamps.
The State Department and Department of Homeland Security will administer the program, which is a response to the flood of Central American children making dangerous journeys to illegally cross the U.S. southern border.
Any permanent resident, parolee or illegal immigrant granted or in the process of being granted a work permit under President Barack Obama’s recent executive order or his deferred action policy, who has children under 21 living in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador can apply for the program.
If their application is approved, the child will be granted a special refugee status and flown into the U.S. where they will receive “resettlement assistance” and be eligible for taxpayer benefits. If the child has children under 21 they can come too, as well as a parent of the child who is married to the applicant.
Some of the benefits they will receive are a free education, medical care, living expenses and food stamps.
Immigration and State Department officials explained how the program will work on an invite-only teleconference call Tuesday that was not open to the press and was mostly attended by groups known to advocate for illegal immigrants, reported Judicial Watch.
A State Department official said the “family reunification” program will be entirely funded by taxpayers, but claimed to have no clue how much the program will cost.
The only cost to the applicants is a DNA test to assure the child is theirs, but they will be reimbursed if the result of the test validates their claim. A U.S. medical official will interview the child or spouse, who will then undergo a medical examination and “cultural orientation” before entering the U.S.
While the children flooding the border are officially referred to as Unaccompanied Alien Children, these immigrants will be officially referred to as Central American Minors.
“The Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee/Parole Program provides certain qualified minors in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to the United States,” a government page explaining the program states.
The U.S. has already sent staff to the region and began accepting applications in December.
If applicants don’t qualify for refugee status, they can be considered for parole status, in which case they would have to pay for medical clearance and the flight into the U.S.
The State Department assured those on the conference call that applicants won’t need to document a credible fear to qualify for the program because “we want to make sure this program is open to as many people as possible.”