Dream­ers use ‘pa­role’ loop­hole for ci­ti­zen­ship path

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

DACA wasn’t sup­posed to be a path­way to ci­ti­zen­ship, yet at least 14,000 il­le­gal im­mi­grant “Dream­ers” man­aged to use the Obama-era de­por­ta­tion amnesty for ex­actly that pur­pose, the gov­ern­ment re­vealed.

The Dream­ers took ad­van­tage of a “loop­hole” that al­lowed them to leave the coun­try and be “paroled” back into the U.S. — and un­der the law, any­one who is paroled can ap­ply to ad­just their sta­tus to a full le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dent, or green card holder.

That’s the key in­ter­me­di­ate step on the path to ci­ti­zen­ship.

“[Pres­i­dent] Obama re­peat­edly main­tained that DACA was not an amnesty, would not give im­mu­nity for il­le­gal res­i­dence, nor a path to ci­ti­zen­ship, but this im­proper loop­hole was set up to do ex­actly that — an ex­pe­dited, con­se­quence­free path to ci­ti­zen­ship for those with a spouse or em­ploy­ment spon­sor,” said Jes­sica Vaughan, pol­icy stud­ies di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies.

The rev­e­la­tion is in a fil­ing in the on­go­ing lit­i­ga­tion over Pres­i­dent Trump’s 2017 at­tempt to phase out the pro­gram.

The gov­ern­ment re­ported the num­ber who re­ceived ex­pe­dited sta­tus through mar­riage to a U.S. cit­i­zen.

Ms. Vaughan said thou­sands more could have ob­tained green cards through job ties or other fam­ily re­la­tion­ships.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­ported to Congress in 2017 that more than 45,000 DACA re­cip­i­ents had been granted ad­vance pa­role — per­mis­sion for those in the U.S. with­out per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus to leave and then reen­ter — cre­at­ing the op­por­tu­nity for them to find a valid visa that would earn them a path to ci­ti­zen­ship.

Mr. Obama, in cre­at­ing De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals through a Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment memo in 2012, in­sisted that those who ap­plied weren’t get­ting a leg up.

“Now let’s be clear: This is not amnesty, this is not im­mu­nity, this is not a path to ci­ti­zen­ship,” he said.

But his ad­min­is­tra­tion, in writ­ing the rules for DACA, opened a large door­way to that path by specif­i­cally grant­ing them the chance to win ad­vance pa­role.

Un­der that sys­tem, a mi­grant who has an ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­son can be granted per­mis­sion to leave, then to reen­ter the coun­try. Be­ing paroled back into the U.S. then opens up the ci­ti­zen­ship av­enue.

Pa­role was put into place nearly 60 years ago as a hu­man­i­tar­ian pro­tec­tion to let peo­ple into the U.S. with­out for­mally ad­mit­ting them.

But grant­ing ad­vance pa­role has no ba­sis in law, said Matt O’Brien, a for­mer of­fi­cial at U.S. Ci­ti­zen­ship and

Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices who is now with the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form.

Mr. O’Brien said pa­role was in­tended to act as a sort of asy­lum law, giv­ing im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials a way to let in peo­ple who showed up at the bor­ders or air­ports hav­ing fled com­mu­nism or other op­pres­sive regimes.

But ad­vance pa­role is now be­ing used by peo­ple al­ready in the U.S. with­out solid le­gal sta­tus — of­ten il­le­gal im­mi­grants — to skirt the law.

He said he and other col­leagues at USCIS warned the Obama team at the time about the “glar­ing loop­hole” they were cre­at­ing by ex­tend­ing pa­role to DACA re­cip­i­ents.

“Per­mit­ting parolees, who have not been for­mally ad­mit­ted to the U.S., to ad­just is a glar­ing loop­hole in our im­mi­gra­tion law. And, in my opin­ion, it is a loop­hole that is sig­nif­i­cantly more dan­ger­ous than any of the asy­lum loop­holes,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Ad­vance pa­role is sup­posed to be granted only in cases in which a mi­grant has a com­pelling need to leave the U.S.

Im­mi­grant rights or­ga­ni­za­tions set about to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties to give DACA re­cip­i­ents a chance to win green cards.

In one prom­i­nent case, the Cal­i­for­ni­aMex­ico Stud­ies Cen­ter ad­ver­tised such a pro­gram, charg­ing thou­sands of dol­lars to give Dream­ers a chance to travel to Mex­ico so they could qual­ify for ad­vance pa­role.

Part of the fees the pro­gram col­lects helps pay for “le­gal ad­vice and fil­ing as­sis­tance” in ob­tain­ing ad­vance pa­role.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion kept the DACA ad­vance pa­role data se­cret and re­fused to an­swer in­quiries from Repub­li­can law­mak­ers.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in 2017 re­versed that pol­icy and re­vealed that more than 45,000 DACA re­cip­i­ents had been granted ad­vance pa­role.

Of those 45,000, USCIS says 13,908 to 14,358 DACA re­cip­i­ents have gone on to get green cards.

The Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund (MALDEF), the or­ga­ni­za­tion that is lead­ing the le­gal de­fense of DACA in the court­room and pried loose the data from USCIS, de­clined to com­ment.

It’s not clear why MALDEF sought the data.

Mr. Trump, in an­nounc­ing his at­tempt to phase out DACA in 2017, can­celed the abil­ity of Dream­ers to use ad­vance pa­role to get on the path to ci­ti­zen­ship.

Fed­eral courts have blocked most of the DACA phase­out, but they left in place the ad­vance pa­role pro­hi­bi­tion.

“USCIS is no longer ac­cept­ing or ap­prov­ing ad­vance pa­role re­quests from DACA re­cip­i­ents un­der stan­dards as­so­ci­ated with the DACA pol­icy,” the agency told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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