Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are seeking details on an Obama Administration practice that puts individuals in the country illegally on a pathway to citizenship.
The scheme allows those granted deferred deportation to take advantage of an administratively created benefit called “advance parole,” which would allow such undocumented immigrants to gain lawful permanent residence, commonly known as a green card. The immigrant can then later apply for U.S. citizenship.
The Obama Administration is expanding the scope of the immigration parole statute, which was designed to allow non-visa holders temporary access into the country on a case-by-case basis only for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or in cases of “significant public benefit.” Immigrants applying for deferred deportation are now being encouraged to concurrently apply for advance parole, a benefit created through administrative action to certify that the applicant qualifies for immigration parole when re-entering the country after travel abroad. Once an undocumented immigrant has left the country and has been granted re-entry as a parolee, he or she becomes eligible to apply for a green card, opening the door to citizenship. Some organizations, including universities, are creating international trips for the express purpose of securing parole status for deferred deportation recipients. The advance parole scheme also allows undocumented immigrants to evade legal re-entry prohibitions for individuals who have overstayed their visas or are otherwise illegally in the country.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Grassley and Lee requested details on the practice as well as statistics on the number of undocumented immigrants who have been granted parole status via the advance parole scheme and how many of them subsequently obtained a green card as a result.
Full text of the Grassley-Lee letter is available here.