Is Biden’s new parole program a solution to the migrant crisis?
“For us, it’s really déjà vu all over again,” says Gepsie Metellus, a pillar of the Haitian community in Miami, about the current wave of migrants coming to the United States from her home nation.
Over the last few years, and especially over the last few months, the amount of illegal immigrants showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border and landing on Florida's coast has surged.
WLRN tackled this situation through a special live edition of Detention by Design, our timely podcast series that traced the history of immigration detention in the U.S. to South Florida.
Metellus, the executive director of the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, and Randy McGrorty, the executive director of Catholic Legal Services (CLS) in Miami, joined host Danny Rivero to talk about the current wave of migration.
“We've had successive waves of Haitian migrants, and Haitian refugees coming onshore. And it's been the same story. Those waves of migrants coming are all linked to a situation, a socioeconomic situation in Haiti.”
A large number of Haitians have been coming to the US, especially after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and the total breakdown of the constitutional order in that country.
In an effort to halt the illegal — and dangerous — migration of people from Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, the Biden administration has created a parole program that will allow 30,000 migrants a month to legally enter the U.S. with work authorizations for up to two years through sponsorships.
“I think that it's a very creative response,” said McGrorty. “They're hoping that person who's in Haiti is desperate and knows they have to get out of there for many reasons ... do they get on a boat, which we all know is very dangerous, or do they go through this process and come here in an orderly process?”
If the full allocation is taken, as expected, as many as 360,000 migrants could come to the U.S. through this process by the end of the year.
“There are some concerns. It's a new program. It is not flawless, but it is an attempt to address the push factors in each country,” said McGrorty.
Metellus says that if history is a guide, it’s likely that this program could be something permanent down the road. But in her eyes, advocacy groups like hers are going to have to double down on pushing for extensive immigration reform.
“I think the one and only way out of this predicament is that we really insist that our elected leaders, our congressional leaders, focus on comprehensive immigration reform once and for all because this piecemeal schizophrenic approach is leading us nowhere,” said the Sant La director.
Those interested in sponsoring someone must go to www.uscis.gov/CHNV and fill out the I-134 form.
You can stream the special here or watch the video below.
On this special event, we also covered the history behind the waves of migrants coming to the area and how it affects the current crisis.
Listen to the full episode above.