The Washington Times, July 12, 2023
On May 12, the Biden administration implemented seemingly tough restrictions on asylum intended to slow illegal immigration. It also expanded the “legal” entry of those who likely would have come in as illegal immigrants earlier.
The Department of Homeland Security is crowing that the administration “has led the largest expansion of legal [immigration] pathways in decades.”
The tougher asylum standards and stricter use of deportation are supposed to offset the lifting of Title 42, which had allowed authorities to expel many border crossers with minimal legal fuss.
The administration plans to grant “parole” to 360,000 migrants annually from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The program has received 1.5 million requests to “sponsor” people from those four countries since January.
Once admitted as parolees, the new arrivals can “sponsor” other parolees from those four countries.
The White House also allows migrants in Mexico to book appointments at border “ports of entry” via the CPB One app. This program, along with the stricter asylum standards, is supposed to discourage illegal crossings and drive border crossers to official border “ports.”
The end result for most who can score an appointment is parole with work authorization. It is also overbooked with more than 62,000 people applying for the first 1,000 appointments available for one day, May 24.
Reportedly, families with children are still illegally crossing the border between ports of entry and turning themselves over to border officials to be released with a Notice to Appear, or NTA, before immigration authorities at a later date. According to the left-of-center Migration Policy Institute, “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 with two years of parole and an NTA. Hence, although the administration is encouraging asylum seekers to arrive at ports of entry, only minimal processing happens there.” Superficial and cursory health screening is one result of this “minimal processing.” Then there are the Afghan and Ukrainian parole programs. At least 200,000 have arrived as parolees under these two programs.
The Department of Homeland Security reports that over 300,000 Ukrainians have arrived since the Russians invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Of these, 125,000 came under the Uniting for Ukraine program, which has no upper numerical limit. The Ukrainian program allows new arrivals to immediately invite or “sponsor” others as parolees from Ukraine.
Parolees from Afghanistan and Ukraine are eligible for all forms of welfare upon arrival. The rest of the parolee population will become “qualified aliens” for the purpose of benefits after five years in parole status.
George Fishman, a senior legal fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and former acting chief counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, has calculated that when the five-year mark hits for the bulk of today’s arriving parolees — whose “sponsors” had pledged to support them — the welfare cost to American taxpayers will reach about $3 billion per year per million parolees.
Including Afghans and Ukrainians, the Biden administration has paroled in over 1 million people who would have otherwise been barred from immigrating to the U.S. (Lawsuits by some affected states are underway to stop the indiscriminate use of parole authority by the administration. A bill passed by the House would do the same, but it has little chance of passage.)
Parole was never intended to admit entire groups of people. Rather, it offers temporary entry on a case-by-case, emergency basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or “significant public benefit.”
As implemented, President Biden’s parole programs allow for recipients to remain for two years. There are numerous paths to permanent immigrant status, some of which are expensive, complex, time-consuming, and without guarantee of desired result.
The city of Memphis, Tennessee, is spending $250,000 in COVID relief funds for legal fees to help 36 Afghans file asylum claims. Obviously, this is not a “scalable solution” for the more than 1 million parolees in the country now.
Congress will be forced to deal with this one way or another. In the meantime, the administration can renew the parole term indefinitely or grant country-based Temporary Protected Status to parolees.
Earlier this year, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared his intent “to make sure that we have safe, orderly, and legal pathways for individuals to be able to access our legal system. ... When we talk about legislation, it is building the orderly, legal pathways for people to obtain relief under our laws.”
Legislation? The administration has revamped U.S. immigration without legislation and handed Congress a fait accompli.
It is no longer about who should be let in and who should be kept out. It is about getting one giant step closer to open borders.