Townhall, April 29, 2022
Russia invaded Ukraine about two months ago, resulting in millions of Ukrainians fleeing to escape the war. Neighboring countries have responded admirably, opening their borders and offering refuge. The European Union went further, creating a new temporary immigration status that grants displaced Ukrainians work permits, free health care, and other benefits. While the fighting continues, those who managed to get out are essentially safe and able to provide for themselves and their families. And, by remaining nearby they can more easily return home, as 1 million Ukrainians have reportedly already done.
That is what true humanitarian immigration relief looks like. In contrast, the Biden administration is exploiting Americans’ sympathies for the Ukrainian people to permanently resettle over 100,000 of them in the United States in violation of our immigration laws. Through a just-announced program known as "Uniting for Ukraine", Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will "parole" into the United States any Ukrainian who has a U.S. sponsor. While many of these sponsors may be family members, the program also allows non-governmental organizations to sponsor.
To be clear, this is not humanitarian relief. Nearly every Ukrainian who will participate is already resettled somewhere in Europe, meaning they are no longer fleeing the war. Instead, this is a family reunification program to benefit Ukrainians who do not otherwise qualify for a visa. Don’t just take my word for it, the DHS press release announcing the program says as much: “The United States strongly encourages Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States who do not have and are not eligible for a visa to seek entry via Uniting for Ukraine from Europe….”
U.S. immigration law is restrictive by design. Most immigration categories have numerical caps and the burden is on the alien to overcome a presumption of inadmissibility. The Biden administration opposes these caps and supports de facto unlimited immigration, a viewpoint obviously inconsistent with the structure of immigration law. To circumvent these inherent limitations, DHS secretary Mayorkas essentially waives our immigration laws through an abusive use of the parole authority.
By law, the DHS secretary may allow a visa-less alien into the country through parole, but only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Congress intended this to be a narrow authority reserved for the most limited of circumstances. Secretary Mayorkas treats parole as a way to override U.S. immigration law by impermissibly applying it to whole categories of people.
This is precisely how the Biden administration allowed tens of thousands of unvetted Afghans into the country after the disastrous withdrawal from Kabul last summer. Parole allows the visa-less alien to obtain a work permit, a particularly lucrative perk for an alien who otherwise lacks authorization to even be in the country. With the Afghans, DHS decided to dole out work permits first, vet later. This irresponsible decision allowed in many Afghan evacuees who committed heinous crimes; the decision even earned a stern rebuke from the Defense Department’s watchdog.
Instead of learning from this mistake, “Uniting for Ukraine” follows the same flawed playbook. While DHS claims the sponsors will have to prove their financial ability to care for the Ukrainian parolees and pass background checks, I’m told by a source inside DHS that this is less than truthful. In fact, the Biden political team has sidelined the fraud team and the adjudicators who normally review a sponsor’s affidavit of support, putting a different team of non-adjudicators in charge of “vetting”. If that isn’t bad enough, I’m also told the sponsor’s income will not actually be verified.
Once here, these Ukrainians are never going home. In addition to work permits, parole also allows these aliens to obtain Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. While the initial parole is good for two years, it is renewable. After a year, all of these paroled Ukrainians will become eligible for welfare benefits, further burdening American taxpayers who are already suffering from sky high inflation and exorbitant prices due to other failed Biden administration policies.
Then, expect all of them to add on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) 18 months from now when Secretary Mayorkas inevitably “redesignates” Ukraine, a concept not permissible, though often utilized, under the TPS statute. TPS is best thought of as amnesty-lite because administrations either continuously renew it without regard to whether the underlying conditions still exist, or activist judges block terminations like when President Trump’s DHS terminated several TPS designations because those countries no longer met the statutory criteria for such "temporary" protection.
The Biden administration may sell this program as temporary humanitarian relief. It is neither temporary, nor humanitarian, nor compliant with U.S. immigration law.