MIAMI (AP) – After years of waiting in countries marred by violence, Central Americans who were finally cleared to reunite with their families in the U.S. are facing a major obstacle: the coronavirus pandemic.
Only about 338 – or 12% – of 2,700 people approved to come to the U.S. through a small refugee program have arrived since a court settlement more than a year ago, according to the latest government data. President Donald Trump has shut down the program, but a judge said those already cleared could travel.
After navigating legal snags and rigorous checks requiring they show they’re in danger in Central America, the refugees faced more delays as the pandemic grounded flights, canceled interviews and closed clinics that conduct needed medical exams.
And when they finally do arrive, they have a temporary status they must keep reapplying for, face long waits for work permits they might not get and fear being separated from family as Trump