In the criminal justice system, parole means a prisoner’s early release, pursuant to certain conditions, from his sentence. But in immigration law, parole has a different meaning. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes the federal government to exercise discretion to temporarily allow certain otherwise inadmissible aliens applying for admission at a port of entry to physically enter the United States even if they have no legal basis for admission.
Typically, DHS only grants parole, and limits it to individuals outside the United States, if the agency determines that there are urgent humanitarian needs or a tangible public benefit. Parolees, legally considered arriving aliens, are expected to depart when their authorized time periods lapse.
Another parole category is parole-in-place, available to some aliens already residing in the U.S., and often living with their illegally present family members. For the fortunate aliens who are paroled in place, they receive lifetime valid work permits, Social Security numbers and other affirmative benefits like driver’s licenses. As originally written, parole in place can only be granted on a case-by-case basis. But the Obama administration, unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, began to use parole as a cover to give amnesty to small groups, a little bit at a time.
In October 2013, then-President Obama ignored separation of powers, and granted amnesty via parole to small groups of illegally present aliens: illegal alien spouses, children and parents of military personnel and veterans, as well as certain relatives of those who entered under the Visa Waiver program, itself badly in need of stricter oversight. Obama had earlier tipped his hand about his willingness to go around Congress when he signed off on deferred action for childhood arrivals, DACA, the program that eventually gave 650,000 aliens temporary status and work permission.
In March, parole once again jumped to the forefront of immigration news. The Biden administration announced that it would “reinstitute and improve” the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole program (CAM) that Obama initiated in 2014, but that President Trump ended in 2017. Interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News, Biden personally proclaimed that Northern Triangle migrants need not go through the hazardous and costly process of paying traffickers. Soon his administration would send Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services representatives to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to process asylum petitions in person. Biden: “And the process of getting set up, and it’s not gonna take a whole long time, is to be able to apply for asylum in place. So don’t leave your town or city or community.”
Under Biden, who ignores immigration law and has looked the other way as thousands of worldwide foreign nationals have walked in, parole is poised to become a much larger challenge for keeping immigration at levels the nation can support. Criminals are well-aware of the ease of entry at the Southwest border. At the Rio Grande Valley border sector, Customs and Border Protection reported a 380 percent increase in criminal alien arrests over last year’s total. And what CBP calls “gotaways” have spiked 156 percent since 2020.
Biden has disregarded the American majority and provided an immigration policy diametrically opposed. The parole authority is broad, without statuary limitations, and therein lay abuse opportunities that the Biden administration will take advantage of.
Combined with executive actions and executive orders on immigration, parole is a dangerous tool that allows the sitting president to circumvent Congress, and carry out his immigration vision unilaterally. Conceivably, Biden could decide to grant parole to millions of illegal immigrants, an action that’s consistent with his proven, open borders immigration agenda.
In his reckless rush to admit as many foreign nationals as possible in the shortest time period, Biden’s power grab has exposed citizens to public health risks, added to U.S. workers’ job concerns and further endangered the environment. Americans want a meaningful immigration process – one that enforces congressionally written and passed laws that the U.S. president dutifully signed.