The Biden administration said Tuesday it is expanding a program that will allow Central American minors to come to the United States legally, possibly making tens of thousands of young people newly eligible to enter the country, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"It could be a substantial increase, and we hope it will be," a senior administration official told the Los Angeles Times, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official added that up to 100,000 could become eligible under the modified plan.
Started under the Obama administration in 2014, the Central American Minors program would cover those 21 and younger from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, from which the bulk of young asylum-seekers come.
Former President Donald Trump ended the program in 2017, saying congressional approval was needed for such a measure. President Joe Biden reinstated it March 10.
Before Trump ended the program, 1,450 children had been paroled into the U.S. with an additional 2,700 having been conditionally approved, the Journal reported.
Previously, one way to take advantage of the program was for the young person to have a parent already living legally in the U.S., but Tuesday's announcement opens the program to children who have a legal guardian in the U.S. or a parent waiting on a visa application or the adjudication of an asylum request.
According to the Journal, the last two months have seen some decline in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, falling from nearly 19,000 in March to 14,158 in May, still a record number.