The Biden Administration’s Parole Abuse Amounts to a Parallel Immigration System

Every administration comes to office vowing to be the “most transparent in history,” only to be more opaque than the previous one. The Biden administration is certainly carrying on that tradition, nowhere more so than in providing information about its handling of immigration matters.

From Day One, this administration has done its best to hide the true scope of illegal immigration from the American public. One of the ways they have gone about this is to expand the use of the Executive Branch’s parole authority on an unprecedented scale. Those who want to know how many inadmissible foreign nationals have been paroled into the country have to sift through mountains of carefully hidden data. Over the summer, those numbers began to be revealed.

In July, CBS News reported that since President Biden came to office, more than 541,000 otherwise inadmissible aliens had entered the country under parole. That is an astounding number, given that the statutory language granting the Executive Branch such authority. Section 212(d)(5)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that the secretary of Homeland Security “may … in his discretion parole into the United States temporarily under such conditions as he may prescribe only on a case-by-case basis [emphasis added] for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit any alien applying for admission to the United States, but such parole of such alien shall not be regarded as an admission of the alien and when the purposes of such parole shall, in the opinion of the [DHS secretary] have been served the alien” must leave the country. Based on the language of the statute, the number of people qualifying for parole would be a lot closer to 541 than 541,000.

But as jaw-dropping as the CBS estimate of parolees is, Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies contends that the actual number of people granted parole under the Biden administration is nearly 1.44 million! In addition to the administration’s wholesale abuse of parole based on specific countries of origin or the use of CBP One phone app, the administration has been quietly handing out parole to large numbers of migrants encountered entering the country between ports of entry, i.e. illegal border-crossers. Arthur estimates that as of June 2023, an additional 896,000 inadmissible foreign nationals had been paroled into the United States during the first two and a half years of the Biden administration. Moreover, the administration is attempting to further expand the list of nationalities eligible for special parole programs as well as increasing the use of the CBP One app.

Put in perspective, the number of people allowed to enter under the Executive Branch’s very limited parole authority exceeds the population of Dallas, Texas – the nation’s ninth largest city. It is also beginning to rival the number of people who are issued green cards each year under our statutorily established immigration laws. In other words, the Biden administration is abusing its parole authority to create a parallel immigration system without any legal authority to do so. The Constitution vests Congress with plenary authority to establish immigration laws – a power that has been repeatedly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

FAIR’s president, Dan Stein, has repeatedly charged that the current administration is acting lawlessly, and its assertion of limitless discretionary authority to allow as many people as it wants to settle in the United States is a threat not only to the well-being of the American people, but to our constitutional system of government.


Ira joined FAIR in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant, and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FAIR column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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