Congressional Republicans Demand Answers on New Parole Program
FAIR Take | January 2023
On January 18, Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ), newly-elected Senator JD Vance (R-OH), and 35 Republican co-signers sent a bicameral letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas demanding answers on his department’s recently announced parole program for up to 30,000 migrants per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and/or Venezuela (henceforth “CHNV”). CHNV is the Biden administration’s latest in a string of abuses of parole authority, which is supposed to be exercised temporarily and “only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” Moreover, refugees – aliens who fear persecution in their home country “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” – are not supposed to be paroled and should instead use a separate legal pathway with more rigorous vetting.
And yet, whether it’s through the estimated 100,000 Ukrainians paroled through Uniting for Ukraine, the over 70,000 Afghans paroled through Operation Allies Welcome, the 24,000 Venezuelans paroled through a “migration enforcement process” for border-security optics around the midterm elections, or the 360,000 aliens a year that will be paroled through CHNV, Biden and Mayorkas have made a complete mockery of “case-by-case” analysis, usurped Congressional intent, and implemented industrial-scale processing of aliens – many of whom appear to be refugees – through executive fiat.
To that end, the Biggs/Vance letter could not have come at a more appropriate time. It charges the administration with “foregoing real solutions by encouraging more migration that will assuredly worsen the untenable border crisis” and continuing to “double-down on policies that act as pull factors for illegal immigration.” It requests a response by January 31 to five simple questions, paraphrased here: 1) Where is the legal authority to parole 30,000 aliens each month? 2) To parole an alien before they even reach a US border, as is provided for in CHNV? 3) Will taxpayer dollars be used to transport CHNV parolees into the US interior? 4) How does CHNV enhance border security? 5) What criteria were used to select these countries for this program?
Upon releasing the letter, Biggs said, “Secretary Mayorkas testified under oath that parole is ‘judged on an individualized case-by-case basis’ but I have seen no evidence to support this claim…as usual, the department [of Homeland Security] has some explaining to do.” Vance added, “This is a massive gift to the drug cartels and human traffickers that are killing Americans by the day and wreaking havoc on our country. The American people deserve to know why the Biden administration has taken this action and, more importantly, what legal justification there is to support it.”
In some ways, today’s House Republicans confront the same problem that led Congress to impose the last parole limitations in 1996. At the time, a House committee report noted parole “should not be used to circumvent Congressionally-established immigration policy or to admit aliens who do not qualify for admission under established legal immigration categories.” For a while following the 1996 reforms, a typical year would see just 1,500 to 2,000 parole applications for, say, a funeral, medical treatment, court proceedings, or family reunification in dire emergencies. Now, as the executive branch has again strayed from Congressional intent, Biden administration officials must be held accountable.
This letter is an opening salvo as House Republicans flex their new majority to pass a slew of bills to strengthen immigration enforcement and border security, leverage the House Oversight Committee to investigate the Biden Border Crisis, and possibly prepare impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas. The Biggs/Vance letter warns in conclusion: “This administration cannot continue its erosion of the southern border and its mass-parole of migrants into our country. A secure country demands secure borders.”