Last week, President Barack Obama used a provision known as “humanitarian parole” to give temporary legal status to immigrant entrepreneurs. The move has received considerable criticism as this parole has historically been used only during periods of emergency.
The use of humanitarian parole enables the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to admit immigrants into the US on a temporary basis due to a “compelling emergency”. Such instances include testifying in a court case or allowing someone to have a life-saving operation that is unavailable in their own country. The Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesman, Ira Mehlman, said the provision was intended to be a limited power that the President could make use of in rare situations, but which Obama has chosen to extend as far as possible.
The Center for Immigration Studies director of policy studies, Jessica Vaughan, said that the parole has been used by past Presidents at times when people were fleeing from civil war or other kinds of unrest. President Dwight Eisenhower used it to allow 32,000 Hungarians to come to the US after escaping the Soviet invasion in 1965.
Vaughan claims that the criteria of the parole have been loosened by the current President to use it as a new category enabling people to remain in the US. Mehlman describes the move as the latest step in the erosion of respect for US immigration laws.