Haitians in Reynosa, Mexico, check their CBP One applications for their invitations to cross a U.S. port of entry for parole processing into the United States. 76,000 have been let in this way at land ports since January 2023. Photo by Todd Bensman in May 2023.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For all of 2023, top Biden administration officials have repeatedly assured Americans that aspiring illegal border crossers would undergo “rigorous security vetting” and eligibility checks when they use the CBP One appointment system to fly or walk by government invitation over the border for quick parole into the United States.
More than 225,000 aspiring border-jumpers from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have gained entry, apparently by flying or walking over the border, from January through September 5, 2023.
Long-withheld rejection and approval statistics reveal a reality at sharp odds with the much-heralded “rigorous” security and eligibility vetting ostensibly embedded in the CBP One appointment-and-release system.
From January through September 5, 2023, DHS vetting resulted in only 698 rejections for unspecified “Ineligibility Reasons” out of 225,000 invited to cross the border into the United States, according to new records obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies through ongoing FOIA litigation against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
That number — 698, or 0.31 percent of total applicants — provides confirmation of an administration spokesperson’s response in April 2023 to a Fox News Digital inquiry, which was that DHS had rejected less than 1 percent of the 75,000 parole seekers it said used the CBP One interface to cross by government invitation at land ports as of last April.
The tens of thousands flying in from foreign nations under a similar government invitation parole program also use the CBP One interface to submit information about themselves that is supposed to be used for security checks, including facial recognition photos. Last week, CIS disclosed that DHS has authorized hundreds of thousands to fly commercial airlines directly from nations south of Mexico into 43 U.S. interior airports, where they are quickly paroled into the country, too, just like at the land border ports.
The new number of 698 rejections, in addition to adding confirming context to the Fox report about high approval rates for those coming in by land port, demonstrates that Biden’s DHS has implemented no improvements in the six months since it vastly expanded these quick-parole programs. And not just for Cubans, Haitians, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans.
Contrary to repeated assurances that all who submit security information through CBP One interfaces would require rigorous vetting, this implausibly small rejection number would decisively demonstrate that Biden’s DHS is hurriedly and indiscriminately waving through almost anyone who applies, without regard to fraud or ineligibility such as home nation criminality.
The number 698 came by way of ongoing Center for Immigration Studies FOIA litigation against CBP and only includes denial statistics reflecting Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. It remains unclear how many of those four nationalities also have entered at land ports vs. interior airports (although CIS has observed many crossing at land ports, too).
The administration chose to expand the CBP One appointment system to that particular nationality grouping of four in January, adding them to many dozens of other nationalities that have been privy to the quick-parole benefits dating back to 2021.
But limited data about these four nationalities in this one program still opens a rare window on how the government is likely handling all of the other parole beneficiaries submitting personal security-purpose information through CBP One interfaces, no matter how they ultimately enter.
An analysis of the released documents and CBP’s publicly released August numbers broken down by the four nationalities show that:
- Of the 71,000 Haitians coming through the ports during the past year, DHS rejected a mere 156 for ineligibility reasons.
- Only 254 of the 68,000 Venezuelans coming through the ports were rejected.
- Of the 32,000 Nicaraguans coming through the ports, a mere 103 found the path blocked to them.
- Of the 45,000 Cubans coming through the ports, DHS personnel rejected 185 on ineligibility determinations.
To receive an appointment leading quickly to parole into the United States, CPB requires applicants to prove they have a financial sponsor, health vaccinations, and can pass biometric and biographic national security and public safety screening, according to a January 5, 2023 DHS announcement. With those requirements met, applicants are invited over the border and released on their own recognizance for up to two years of legal residence in the country and permission to work during that period.
In seeing the stark ratio between approvals and rejections in this group of four nationalities, however, an observer might wonder if these requirements are being met by those being admitted. But DHS so far is withholding those answers.
The FOIA documents containing the number of rejections redacts the reasons for the rejections under FOIA Exception 7E, which generally protects law enforcement “techniques and procedures ... in the context of a law enforcement investigation or prosecution” when its public disclosure would cause a “foreseeable harm”.
Other Missing Links
The data also does not reflect the rejection rates of untold dozens of other nationalities from around the world that were already using CBP One interfaces to submit security information for their appointments to get parole at land ports (and still are), including those CIS has documented and videotaped from Kyrgyzstan, Dagestan, Russia, Belarus, Afghanistan, Syria, and a great many from Mexico and Central America.
The implausibly low rejection rate of 698 out of 225,000 Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians suggests that no real security vetting is taking place for the far wider array of nationalities being allowed in under these parole programs.
Importing a Population of Perfect Angels?
One of two theories might explain the sharp disparity between approval and rejection rates. Either an extraordinarily high percent of foreign strangers applying for these entry permits are as clean as the driven snow. Or the Biden administration is wholly neglecting its promise to the American public that only the honest will be let in.
It was obvious from the administration’s first announcement of these walk-them-in programs that little to no “rigorous” vetting could possibly occur.
That’s because, for super-majorities of all the foreign nationals who have and will use the CBP One quick-entry permit program, origin nations that might hold background or intelligence information on individuals are diplomatically estranged from the United States, or are incapable of keeping and sharing such records.
American border officials no doubt receive and bounce applicant biometrics provided through CBP One interfaces against U.S. databases. But those would come back clear if alien applicants have never stepped foot on American soil. If applicants have never been inside the United States, no one can expect Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela to willingly run criminal histories for the Americans, even if they had the computerized capacity to do so, because all three of those countries are diplomatically estranged from the United States. Three of those four countries labor under various kinds of U.S. economic sanctions (Cuba) or diplomatic isolation (Venezuela and Nicaragua).
Even if relations were warmer, none of those nations have interoperable databases the U.S. government could check for criminality that would strike their citizens from the new parole programs. Haiti, for instance, is currently a failed state with no capacity to run criminal background checks for the Americans.
The problems run far beyond these nationalities. As the Center for Immigration Studies alone reported in November 2022, immigrants from Muslim-majority nations all over the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa had been using the CBP One system to gain parole at the land ports since at least the summer of 2022, including Syrians, Afghans, and Somalis.
Don’t expect criminal database access from hostile Syria, Afghanistan, or Russia. Nor from Somalia, the northeast African nation that for 30 years has had no government that could even hand out birth certificates, driver’s licenses, or make criminal arrests of any kind.
Whatever assurances current U.S. leaders are publicly messaging — that CBP One systems all but guarantees foreign nationals approved for these parole programs won’t be approved unless they are clean, the truth is that Americans will have no more knowledge about many of these strangers and their backgrounds than if they were to run the border illegally as they had originally planned.
Correction: The headline has been changed to reflect the actual percentage rejected: 99.7 percent, not 99.97 percent.