Biden Administration must expand and improve its use of parole
While parole authority has been a critical tool to expand lawful processes for individuals seeking relief, the Biden Administration can take other steps to make parole more effective and to ensure long-term success for individuals allowed to enter through parole.
The administration should build on the success of existing efforts by establishing additional parole pathways. These could be designed, as some experts have suggested, to serve the most common countries of origin for individuals arriving at the border; the administration could also explore creating pathways to connect qualified workers with industries facing critical job shortages, providing a “significant public benefit” by helping reduce inflation.
For individuals who have already been paroled, the administration should provide work authorization as quickly as possible, so they can support themselves and contribute their skills while navigating their legal process. Ideally, work authorization would be provided incident to status, or allow applications for parole and work authorization to be submitted simultaneously.
The administration should also issue longer parole authorizations for individuals applying for asylum. The current asylum process can take more than five years to complete, requiring at least three renewals. Granting a longer term of parole would reduce bureaucratic workload and provide more stability as they complete the legal process. USCIS should receive additional resources to process parole applications in a timely manner that is sensitive to the realities of the conditions applicants face in their home countries. And the administration should also provide more support to paroled individuals seeking asylum, including connections to pro bono legal providers and community organizations, to ensure they are supported throughout the entirety of their legal process.
Finally, the administration must keep a long-term view on the futures of individuals paroled into the U.S.4 As time goes on, parole time frames will expire, and the administration must be proactive about renewing parole grants where appropriate. Additionally, there is no pathway to legal status stemming from parole. The administration should press leaders in Congress more forcefully to establish adjustment processes for parole recipients where appropriate, like finally passing the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act.
Expanding on the success of these lawful avenues is a promising alternative to the types of failed deterrence-only policies advanced by the Trump Administration, many of which the Biden Administration has continued or proposed to restore (like the proposed asylum ban).
The Biden Administration must continue to defend the proven legality and effectiveness of immigration parole as a policy tool, and take steps to improve and strengthen it.