Biden’s Immigration Policy Is a $3 Billion ‘Golden Ticket’ for Parolees. Not so Much for Taxpayers

By Don Barnett on August 4, 2023

Daily Caller, August 4, 2023

The Biden administration recently implemented seemingly tough asylum restrictions to ease the border crisis.

Though the administration claims that the new restrictions have slashed illegal immigration levels, the total number of foreigners crossing into the United States hasn’t changed much.

The Biden administration is simply twisting the law to “legally” bring in hundreds of thousands of foreigners who would have otherwise come here illegally. Once here, they’ll put pressure on American workers and strain our already-overburdened safety net programs. And given that a federal judge just struck down the administration’s asylum restrictions, the total number of economic migrants flocking to the United States may soon rise.

According to CBS News, the Biden administration has admitted at least 541,000 migrants through its “parole” authority, which allows the government to welcome immigrants who don’t have visas. The CBS News estimate is a serious undercount. It excludes some parole programs that ran for a while but were later ended by the courts — and ignores the fact that DHS doesn’t fully release parolee numbers. The number of parolees in the country now is well over one million, with some estimates putting the number at 1.4 million.

Either way, the figures are unprecedented — and of questionable legality. Parole was never intended to admit entire groups of foreign nationals. Rather, it offers temporary entry on a case-by-case, emergency basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.”

Consider how the president has pledged to admit 360,000 migrants every year from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. As of mid-July, that program has swept in around 170,000 migrants. Each arrival is now eligible to “sponsor” new parolees from back home. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Then there’s the CPB One app, used by migrants to book appointments at border “ports of entry.” The app supposedly discourages illegal crossings and drives border crossers to official border “ports.” As of June 30, more than 130,000 immigrants have entered using the app. According to the left-of-center Migration Policy Institute (MPI) “only a fraction of those with CBP One appointments undergo actual asylum screening. Instead, they are often screened only for security concerns and quickly released into the country.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan and Ukrainian parole programs have ushered in another 77,000 and 141,200 arrivals, respectively. The Uniting for Ukraine program doesn’t even have a numerical cap.

On July 7, DHS announced the latest expansion of its parole authority. Individuals from Columbia, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala who have relatives in the United States can skip ahead of other likewise eligible aliens waiting in line for a green card. DHS estimates as many as 73,500 people may qualify.

No wonder the Department of Homeland Security claims “this Administration has led the largest expansion of legal [immigration] pathways in decades.”

The administration’s abuse of parole will harm tens of millions of workers already living in the United States — including legal immigrants. A steady influx of migrants will increase job competition and push down wages for blue-collar workers. According to one estimate, when immigration expands the number of workers in an industry by just 10%, wages drop by at least 3%.

Case in point: America’s low-skilled workforce swelled around 25% over the last two decades, thanks to immigration. Meanwhile, wages sank by between $800 and $1,500 every year.

American taxpayers will find themselves covering a large public welfare bill. Immigrants paroled into the United States for less than one year qualify for HUD public housing and Section 8 programs. And many parolees can receive SNAP — commonly known as “food stamps” — in most states. According to the Biden administration, relying on food stamps shouldn’t hurt a migrant’s chances of eventually gaining U.S. citizenship.

Meanwhile, parolees from Afghanistan and Ukraine automatically become eligible to apply for all welfare upon arrival. Parolees on programs other than the Ukrainian or Afghan programs must wait five years after arrival to become “qualified immigrants” — an immigrant category eligible for Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, and other welfare programs.

Someone has to pick up the tab for all these services. George Fishman, former Acting Chief Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, puts the price-tag at $3 billion a year per million parolees, once the majority of today’s parolees have reached their five-year mark.

Parole is the migrant’s “golden ticket,” as one activist has aptly described it. But — like Willy Wonka — America has a limited number of tickets to offer, and none of those tickets are free. These are truths the Biden administration would do well to remember.