Posted on January 29, 2024

Biden Administration Has Admitted More than 1 Million Migrants into U.S. Under Parole Policy

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS, January 22, 2024

More than 1 million people have been allowed to enter the U.S. under Biden administration programs based on the immigration parole authority that Congress is considering restricting at the request of Republican lawmakers, according to internal government data obtained by CBS News.

Since President Biden took office in 2021, his administration has used immigration parole at a historic scale, invoking the decades-old law to welcome hundreds of thousands of foreigners fleeing armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine, or political and economic crises in countries like Haiti and Venezuela.

Since 1952, parole has empowered federal officials to welcome migrants who don’t have the visas that are typically required to enter the U.S. The law allows these entries if they further a humanitarian cause or public benefit, but it does not give beneficiaries permanent legal status. Instead, migrants paroled into the country are permitted to live and work in the U.S. for a period of time, typically one or two years.

The Biden administration has argued its use of parole has allowed it to respond to emergency situations, such as the Taliban’s reconquest of Afghanistan and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and to reduce illegal crossings at the southern border by offering would-be migrants legal channels to come to the U.S. Biden administration officials have said they’ve acted unilaterally since Congress has not expanded legal immigration pathways since 1990.


Changes to the parole law could force the Biden administration to alter a key pillar of its immigration strategy. While Republican and Democratic administrations have used parole since the 1950s — including to resettle large groups of refugees fleeing communist regimes during the Cold War — the Biden administration’s use of the policy has been unprecedented by any measure.

Internal federal statistics as of Jan. 18 show the Biden administration has invoked the parole authority to admit 422,000 migrants who used a government phone app known as CBP One to schedule a time to be processed at an official U.S.-Mexico border crossing. These migrants are also placed in deportation proceedings in immigration court, though those cases typically take years to be decided due to a massive backlog of claims.

Officials have also used parole to welcome 340,000 Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans at airports under a Biden administration program that allows U.S.-based individuals to sponsor them, according to the internal data.

Under another sponsorship program called Uniting for Ukraine, the U.S. has allowed more than 176,000 Ukrainians to enter the country under the parole authority, according to federal statistics. {snip}

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, the Biden administration cited the parole authority to resettle more than 77,000 Afghans {snip}

The Biden administration has used parole in other contexts, including to release hundreds of thousands of migrants who crossed the southern border illegally in 2021 and 2022 under a policy that was struck down in federal court. But those migrants only received 60-day grants of parole, which was used to release them from custody so they could attend check-in appointments in different U.S. cities.

Federal officials also operate other parole programs and categories, but they are much smaller in scale. For example, the Biden administration is allowing immigrants from Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti and some Central American countries who have pending family-based immigrant visa applications to come to the U.S. more quickly via parole. Roughly 3,600 immigrants have arrived under those policies, according to internal federal figures.