Destroying Immigration Laws Isn't the Way to Help Ukrainian Refugees | Opinion

As it continues to ignore the wholesale breach of our nation's borders, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just announced the launch of "Uniting for Ukraine," a historic effort to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians into the U.S. through various admission pathways—most prominently through humanitarian parole.

The full details have yet to be announced, but early indications are that this program will be yet another example of the Biden administration usurping congressional authority through an expansive and illegal use of humanitarian parole.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has continually abused the limited discretion delegated by Congress in order to run his own mass immigration and refugee program. His abuse of humanitarian parole, expansion of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), weakening of asylum standards and non-existent interior immigration enforcement all amount to a lawless destruction of our nation's immigration limits and controls.

We are a compassionate nation with the world's most generous immigration system. Granting temporary refuge to people whose country was invaded by a malevolent, expansionist neighbor is the right thing to do—but it must be done lawfully.

Statute requires that parole be used temporarily, on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons. In this case, humanitarian parole, rather an actual immigration status authorized by Congress, is being used to circumvent immigration caps that Congress established in order to move hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals into the United States.

By any measure, the United States has over the last two years done more than its fair share of worldwide immigrant and refugee admissions.

Ukrainian refugees
Refugees from Ukraine are seen after they crossed Ukrainian-Polish border at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland on April 8, 2022. - The flow of people escaping Russia's war in Ukraine has slowed but those now fleeing have often spent weeks in dire conditions, the United Nations said on April 8. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said 4,382,316 Ukrainians had fled the country since the war began on February 24. WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Biden administration and lawmakers in both parties also continue to improperly frame the plight of displaced Ukrainians. The fact is, nearly all Ukrainian refugees are already being properly assisted in the region, and there are plenty of ways for us to assist with monetary aid to ease suffering, restore stability and ensure that they can easily return home once the conflict subsides.

In early March, the European Union generously granted three-year residency to all Ukrainian refugees to live, work and access health care in 27 of the world's most secure and developed countries. Why not assist this effort rather than ignoring our own laws to give Ukrainians one more option halfway around the world?

Of course, Ukrainians are a group with compelling humanitarian needs and we share the Biden administration's sympathy for their plight.

However, Congress created the refugee admissions process and authorized TPS specifically to address these types of humanitarian situations, and has repeatedly sought to rein in the executive branch's abuse of humanitarian parole.

Humanitarian parole is not the appropriate mechanism to help Ukrainian refugees. "Programmatic" or class-based parole is unlawful and being used to get around caps that may have required the United States to accept fewer refugees from other regions.

With Mayorkas continuing to improperly invoke parole authority, it raises the question—who's next and how many? Congress, not the executive branch, has plenary authority over immigration. Americans must demand that their government respect its limits.

Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington, D.C.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.