On June 18, President Biden announced a "parole in place" program to bring peace of mind and stability to Americans living in mixed-status families — that is, families where one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other an undocumented immigrant.

Parole in place is humanitarian parole for undocumented migrants who are already in the United States, as opposed to migrants who are arriving at the border. The program will permit them to remain in the United States for up to three years, obtain work authorization and apply for lawful permanent resident status without leaving the country.

An applicant must establish that he or she:
  • is an immigrant who entered illegally and was not admitted or paroled into the United States previously;
  • has been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024;
  • had a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024; and
  • does not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that this program will be available to the undocumented spouses of 500,000 U.S. citizens.

Sounds great — if the courts don’t invalidate the program. Last week's announcement may help Biden in the upcoming elections, but it could end badly for those 500,000 American families.

But first, some background.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 granted the attorney general a limited ability to parole otherwise inadmissible immigrants into the United States. The House Judiciary Committee at the time made clear that:

“[The parole] authority should be surrounded with strict limitations ... to permit the Attorney General to parole inadmissible aliens into the United States in emergency cases, such as the case of an alien who requires immediate medical attention … and in cases where it is strictly in the public interest to have an inadmissible alien present in the United States, such as, for instance, a witness or for purposes of prosecution.”



Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive Branch Immigration Law Expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.