• Biden, Humanitarian Parole, and the Border

    March 27, 2024

    Posted in: Democracy

    Joe Biden could reduce the number of migrants coming into the United States by a million a year, no Congressional action (except cheering by Republican members) necessary.

    More than one million people have been allowed to enter the U.S. under Biden administration programs, based on humanitarian parole authority. Since 2021 Biden has used parole on a historic scale, invoking the 1952 law to welcome hundreds of thousands of foreigners fleeing conflict in Afghanistan and Ukraine, or perpetual political and economic crises in countries like Haiti and Venezuela.

    In 2023 the administration opened this path to immigrants from Ecuador, adding that country to a long list that includes Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In FY2023, the Border Patrol apprehended over 99,000 Ecuadorians who entered the U.S. without authorization, a 312 percent spike from FY2022 and an annual record. By sweeping people from these countries into the humanitarian parole program they are automatically made “legal,” with work permits, for one or two years. During that time they are able to apply for asylum, or wait out an immigrant visa application filed by a relative, bypassing the family reunification-based visa system, which is massively backlogged and numerically limited. Or just disappear into the Heartland.

    The Biden theory is that the humanitarian parole route draws people away from the southern border. The problem is it draws them directly into America. Biden administration officials say they’ve acted unilaterally since Congress has not expanded legal immigration pathways since 1990.

    Biden is also using the parole law to process 1,500 asylum-seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border each day who secured an appointment to apply through a phone app. The underlying program, which began in fall 2022, has admitted more than 357,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela as of this January — 74,000 Cubans, 138,000 Haitians, 58,000 Nicaraguans, and 86,000 Venezuelans. Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the program “a key element of our efforts to address the unprecedented level of migration throughout our hemisphere.”

    So what is this humanitarian parole authority Biden has repurposed into a fire hose epically driving migrant numbers?

    Humanitarian parole refers to a discretionary mechanism employed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to allow individuals to remain in the United States on a, in theory, temporary basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. It was never intended to replace regular visas or Green Cards but rather as a form of temporary relief. Prior to Biden, humanitarian parole was typically granted in cases involving medical emergencies, humanitarian reasons, or significant public benefit. Examples of situations that warranted parole include medical treatment that is not available in the individual’s home country, urgent family needs, or situations where the person can contribute significantly to the public interest in the United States, say as an artist fleeing a repressive government. Pre-Biden, it is important to note that the decision to grant humanitarian parole was mostly made on a case-by-case basis. The previous two administrations averaged about 5,000 cases per year. Past uses of mass parole include the one-time flood of migrants after the Vietnam War (340,000 people) and the Mariel Boatlift (125,000) from Cuba. Every administration, Republican and Democratic, has used parole in emergencies; none had made it the cornerstone of an ongoing mass migration program before Biden.

    Trump said during his campaign he would end this “outrageous abuse of parole” if re-elected. Until then, absent new law from Congress, it looked for awhile like only Texas could stop Joe, though the effort ended in failure.

    Earlier in March a federal judge allowed the Biden administration to continue the program against Texas’ wishes. Judge Drew Tipton — a Trump appointee who previously ruled against a Biden initiative, a proposed 100-day moratorium on most deportations — of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sided with the administration, saying the states failed to establish they had standing on any of their claims to force Biden to end the parole program. The states which signed onto the lawsuit, including Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, and 16 others, argued the program burdened them with additional costs for health care, education, and law enforcement. They also argued the Biden administration was simply recategorizing people who otherwise would have entered the country illegally to come to the United States quasi-legally and thus does little to address the underlying issues along the southern border. They asserted the policy flouts the limits Congress placed on legal immigration.

    Texas is almost certain to appeal the decision, and the case could end up in the Supreme Court as it can be read as addressing the limits of state power on traditionally Federal issues like immigration.
    Texas has not gone away quietly, pursuing other avenues to stop Biden’s parade. Operation Lone Star is Texas Governor Abbott’s multibillion-dollar border security initiative. It establishes a Texas law enforcement presence on the Rio Grande and empowers state and local law enforcement officers to jail migrants on trespassing charges. A new section of border wall was built. The Texas legislature supported the operation by increasing penalties for smuggling and authorizing local police to take on immigration enforcement.
    Another measure is Texas Senate Bill 4, which makes it a state crime for migrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without legal documentation. It also authorizes Texas to deport undocumented illegals. A judge put the law on hold in February, saying it violates the constitutional requirement that the Federal government, not the states, regulate immigration and the border. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blocked the judge’s decision and said the law could take effect while the litigation proceeded. The Supreme Court then temporarily reimposed the pause, and it could rule soon on whether the law will remain on hold until the appeal is decided.
    The city of Eagle Pass became another focal point of state efforts, seeing Texas National Guardsmen unspool razor wire and deploy river buoys to stop migrants. In January, the Guard took over a municipal park, blocking border agents from the riverfront. Authorities from other Republican states sent their own Guardsmen to help. Plans are also in the works to create an 80-acre operating base. Texas sued the Biden administration to prevent Federal border agents from removing or cutting the wire barriers. A district judge sided with Texas, finding that the barriers limit illegal crossings, which impose costs on the state. Ultimately, however, the Supreme Court sided with the Biden administration, saying border agents may remove the barriers as needed until their legality is fully resolved in lower courts.

    Texas’ most nationally visible and certainly most controversial measure to do something about the flow of migrants has been to put them on buses and planes and internally deport them to sanctuary cities such as New York. Since April 2022, Texas has bused more than 100,000 migrants to at least six cities. Spreading the migrant crisis northward has been a genius move by Texas, turning a regional humanitarian crisis into a national one sure to drive votes in November. Before Biden, immigration had never polled as a number one concern for Americans.

    So when Angry Joe Biden says with the sincerity of a wedding vow there is nothing he can do about the southern border without Congress acting he is lying. The border crisis is caused solely by Biden’s decision to employ humanitarian parole on a large scale, a decision which can be rescinded anytime. There are also interim measures like razor wire to dampen the flow. Biden could solve the problem today. If he is still not sure how, he could always ask Texas.


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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      I worked on this issue at State with INS, CIA, NSA beginning in 1990 documenting the rise of criminal smuggling organizations in Central America and the corruption of government officials enabling the smuggling rings. Things have gotten progressively worse as the numbers can attest. In case you haven’t noticed during that time both political parties have had the opportunity to make a meaning effort to deal with it. You know better, as polls as far back as 1990 indicated the majority of the population of Honduras, Ecuador, Peru, El Sal, Guatemala, Nicaragua would migrate to the US if they could.

      In December 2004, the United States and Canada agreed to begin the implementation of the Safe Third Country Agreement between the two countries. As a result, most asylum-seekers must apply for asylum in whichever of these two countries they land in first. That is, an asylum-seeker who travels through the United States and wishes to seek asylum at the Canadian land border will be turned back and told to pursue their claim in the United States, and vice versa. If an asylum applicant loses their claim in the United States and hopes to file a new claim in Canada, as was fairly common a few years ago, they will be unable to do so.

      Mexico has not agreed to be a safe third country.

      So let’s close the border to Mexicans until it agrees.

      03/27/24 8:46 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      The issue of illegal migrants might become notable with the ID of those who perished in the Key bridge collapse. Had the six workers come in years ago with no authorization? Perhaps. The film LONE STAR by John Sayles was a poignant statement about those who sneak into the USA by crossing the Rio Grande (wetbacks) I lived in Southern CA until 1975. My parents employed “wetbacks” to pick their avacado crop in Fallbrook and also had their retaining walls repaired in their Glendale home after a super heavy rain. Mexicans have been conveniently exploited. It’s time to maybe help Mexico’s huge problem with the drug cartels and desperate citizens.

      03/29/24 10:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...



      If the US did “something” about the illegal Mexican workforce, the damn economy would collapse. MAGA would have to get its white hands dirty. MAGA should be concerned about the threat posed by our porous border: terrorism.

      Item: the night of December 12, 2021, a Ford SUV and a Mercedes sedan sped toward the border patrol checkpoint in San Ysidro, California, prompting an agent to open fire on the vehicles. Though no one was hurt by the gunfire, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported in a press release that a total of 18 Russian illegal aliens ranging in age from 10 to 53 were in the convoy. Russians are transiting Cuba and illegally entering the US by boat at Key West. The agency reported that 39 percent of the illegal aliens taken into custody in Texas border patrol sectors last month were nationals from somewhere other than Mexico or Central America. No doubt most of these Russians are genuine political asylum refugees from the lunatic running Russia. No doubt some are not.

      03/30/24 8:45 AM | Comment Link

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