USCIS Announces Potential End to Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program

Advocates for the Haitian community in Everett are denouncing a potential end to the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program that was announced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) at the end of December.

The notice formally published on Dec. 28, and USCIS will accept public comments for 60 days. These changes will terminate the HFRP and another program for Filipino WWII veterans when those formal instruction changes are finalized.

USCIS is terminating these two categorical parole programs to be consistent with Executive Order (E.O.) 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and to better ensure that parole is used only on a case-by-case basis, consistent with sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and without using pre-set criteria.

Parole is a mechanism that allows aliens to temporarily enter or remain in the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible. Categorical parole refers to programs designed to consider parole for entire groups of aliens based on pre-set criteria. Under both categorical parole programs, aliens with approved family-based immigrant petitions have been authorized to enter the United States and are eligible to apply for employment authorization while waiting for their Green Card to become available.

Rev. Myrlande Desrosiers of the Everett Haitian Community Center (EHCC) said they completely oppose the change, and she called on the state delegation to act quickly to stop the change.

“Immigrants are battling various struggles of systemic inequities exacerbated by COVID-19’s devastating economic impacts,” she said. “The Everett Haitian Community Center denounces the non-stop disproportionate attack on Haitian immigrants. The proposed policy to end Haitian Family Reunification Parole will have devastating effects on alien individuals and families.”

She said it is important for immigrants from Haiti to be able to come to the US when awaiting a Green Card as the situation can be dangerous.

“The situation in Haiti…is not encouraging to travel as we face this pandemic,” she said. “Further, the climate of opposition, political turmoil and number of kidnapping cases make it unsafe for aliens with approved family-based immigrant petitions. We believe that the Massachusetts Delegation must act now to deter this unfair decision.”

The change is in keeping with the agency’s August 2019 announcement, USCIS made the announcement and requested public comments on the revisions.

“Parole is to be used on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. With the termination of these categorical programs, any new applicants will be considered for parole consistent with the criteria that apply to any other alien seeking parole,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “USCIS is committed to exercising this limited authority in a manner that preserves the integrity of our immigration system.”

USCIS will process all pending cases under these programs to completion, and all new applications that are postmarked on or before the effective date of the new form instructions. USCIS will publish the effective date of this change as soon as timelines are finalized and could be as early as February 2021. Current parolees will maintain their current period of parole until it expires, unless it is otherwise terminated.

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