Humanitarian parole is a tool used by the U.S. government to allow the entry of certain immigrants in special situations. Over the decades, this tool has been used to admit people from countries such as Hungary in the 1950s, Vietnam in the 1970s, and Iraqi Kurds in the 1990s.
For those who have benefited from humanitarian parole, it has meant an opportunity of a lifetime. Emilia Ferrer Triay, who arrived from Cuba in 1980 as a child, said that humanitarian parole gave her the opportunity to realize her dreams and change her life.
Testimony of Emilia Ferrer Triay
Emilia Ferrer Triay was rescued from the Florida Straits along with her aunt, uncle and younger brother, who had been trying to reach the United States on a fishing boat. They were among the more than 125,000 Cubans who traveled from the port of Mariel, in northern Cuba. Since her arrival, Emilia had the opportunity to go to school and learn English, which opened the doors to continue her university studies.
Today, she works full time, is married and has three children born in the United States. Emilia became a citizen eight years after her arrival and says that, had she had to stay in Cuba, she would have been very unhappy, as there was no promising future and no possibility to dream. In contrast, in the United States, Emilia has been able to do everything.
Congressional Negotiations on Humanitarian Parole
In the U.S. Congress, Republican senators have refused to approve any additional aid for Ukraine or Israel without changes in border policy first. However, negotiations between the two sides have advanced and the Senate is expected to consider the legislation next week.
President Joe Biden has stated that he does not believe there are any sticking points left in the negotiation. Even Republican Senator John Thune has expressed that they are getting closer on the humanitarian parole issue and that they expect the outstanding issues to be resolved.
In recent days, negotiators have discussed possible compromises, such as limiting the number of immigrants eligible for release under humanitarian parole. These discussions have been held in private, but consensus is expected to be reached on restricting abuse of authority in the use of this tool.
Concerns about immigration and the use of humanitarian parole
Immigration has become an increasingly concerning issue for voters in the United States and is expected to be a major factor in the 2024 election. The Democratic administration has been sharply criticized by Republicans, who claim that its policies have only encouraged illegal immigration.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has pointed out that parole is the preferred tool of an administration that has allowed too many people into the United States.
However, the country’s immigration system has been strained in recent years, with each presidential administration testing the limits of executive power and Congress failing to act on immigration policy.
Biden Administration Approach and the Use of Humanitarian Parole
Administration’s approach to immigration has been to crack down on illegal crossings while opening new avenues for those who arrive by air and have sponsors.
In January 2023, the administration announced a plan to admit 30,000 people per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, as long as they had a financial sponsor and flew to the United States instead of going to the Mexican border.
In addition, a mobile application has been developed that allows people to apply online from anywhere, thus avoiding the trip to the United States.
This approach has been praised by Senate Democrats and immigrant advocates, who see humanitarian parole as a valuable tool to provide urgent relief to those fleeing violence in their countries and to manage the border more efficiently. Prior to the implementation of this plan, most of the people entering the United States illegally came from countries such as Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. However, after the implementation of the plan, arrests of immigrants of these nationalities decreased drastically.
Testimony of Marcelo Conde and the importance of humanitarian parole
Political journalist Marcelo Conde had to flee Nicaragua last year after receiving death threats for his opposition to President Daniel Ortega. Fearing arrest if he left the country legally, Conde waited more than 100 days to obtain humanitarian parole to enter the United States.
Once there, he received authorization to work and is currently employed as a waiter in Nevada. Conde speaks several languages and hopes to work soon as a journalist in the United States.
Testimony from people like Emilia Ferrer Triay and Marcelo Conde demonstrates the importance and positive impact that humanitarian parole can have on the lives of those fleeing difficult situations in their home countries.
It is a fact that the power of humanitarian parole in U.S. immigration policy has been used over the decades to allow the entry of certain immigrants in special situations. Congressional negotiations are currently seeking to establish agreements to limit the abuse of this authority.
Although there is criticism and controversy, the Biden administration’s approach to the use of humanitarian parole has sought to crack down on illegal crossings and open new avenues for those arriving by air.
The testimony of individuals who have benefited from humanitarian parole, such as Emilia Ferrer Triay and Marcelo Conde, demonstrates the positive impact this tool can have on the lives of those fleeing difficult situations in their home countries.