Local News

Durham teen among few allowed in US through federal immigration program

Posted April 7, 2016

— A federal program established about a year and a half ago is giving some children from Central America a chance to flee violence in the region and make new homes in the United States.

The Central American Minors program was created to provide a safe and legal alternative to the surge of children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by themselves – illegally – in 2014. To qualify, children must be from one of those three countries, be under 21 and unmarried, and their parents must be in the U.S. legally.

The U.S. State Department has received more than 7,700 applications to the CAM program as of April 1, officials said, but only 162 children have come into the U.S. through it.

Melvin Perez is one of the lucky few, arriving in Durham a month ago after 13 months of paperwork, interviews and health screenings.

Ana Perez said Thursday that she waited so long just to hug her 16-year-old son in this country, where he no longer faces the gang violence that plagues their native El Salvador, and it was worth the wait.

Melvin's trip to the U.S. marked his first flight on a plane, and he is now getting used to riding a school bus to classes every day. He said his biggest challenge is learning the English language, but he said he is catching on more quickly than he thought he would.

Because he didn't enter the U.S. as a refugee, Melvin must start an entirely new immigration process. He said he just wants to take advantage of every opportunity life gives him and move forward.

CAM processing centers in North Carolina

Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency
5007 Monroe Road, Suite 101
Charlotte, NC 28205

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte
1123 South Church St.
Charlotte, NC 28203-4003

Church World Service-IRP
112 S. Duke St., Suite 4-B
Durham, NC 27701

World Relief Durham
801 Gilbert St. #209
Durham, NC 27701

Church World Service-IRP
620 S. Elm St., Suite 315
Greensboro, NC 27406

North Carolina African Services Coalition
122 N. Elm St., Suite 810
Greensboro, NC 27401

World Relief High Point
155 Northpoint Ave., Suite 102
High Point, NC 27262

Diocese of East Carolina Interfaith Refugee Ministry
1913 Trent Blvd.
New Bern, NC 28560

Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas
616 Hutton St.
Raleigh, NC 27606

5 W. Hargett St., Suite 202
Raleigh, NC 27601

East Carolina Interfaith Refugee Ministry - Wilmington
610-A S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403

World Relief Winston-Salem
545 N. Trade St., Suite 201
Winston-Salem, NC 27101


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  • Fanny Chmelar Apr 13, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    No credible sources on the 3-month rumor.

  • Shaun Lee Apr 8, 2016
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    Welcome to America!

  • Anne Havisham Apr 8, 2016
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    Do astronauts abandon their children when they go to work in space? Do truck drivers abandon their children when they go on the road?

    It sounds to me as though his mother came here to work and earn enough money to bring him here. It also does not sound as though she left her son on a street corner in a basket.

  • Anne Havisham Apr 8, 2016
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    Mr. Woodard, there would not be any money in importing drugs into the U.S. except that there's a huge market for it here.

    If you're my age (55) or older, you may remember the public service announcements' and common wisdom's proclamations that drug pushers [sic] would give drugs to kids at school and be nice to them while they were working to get them hooked, but once the wide-eyed naifs were addicted, the pusher would overcharge them and threaten their parents.

    If the U.S. had no appetite for such a huge amount of drugs, no one would bring them here.

  • Steve Faulkner Apr 8, 2016
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    So, why did his parents abandon him if the home country is so violent and dangerous?

  • Ronald Woodard Apr 8, 2016
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    These folks could have more easily moved to Costa Rica or Panama to run from violence. Why all the way to the USA? And you live in non-gang-violent Durham? Be sure not to move to Detroit or downtown Chicago or Baltimore......may be more dangerous than El Salvador. Ironically much of US gang violence is encouraged by illegal drugs and illegal immigrants from Central America.

  • Chance Loria Apr 8, 2016
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    Now that he's legally in the US he should file a lawsuit against the Obama administration for discrimination since he was required to jump through hoops for 13 months. Yet they allow refugees from terrorist countries to go through the channels within 3 months. Both are in potential life threatening situations. Yet the one who holds the highest potential of threat to out country gets expedited in less that a quarter of the time. Sounds like blatant discrimination to me.