A Postscript on Parole-in-Place

In November of last year, then-Director of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) Alejandro Mayorkas issued a policy memorandum directing examiners to approve all requests for parole on behalf of illegal aliens in the United States who are family of present or former members of the military, including reservists.

Many observers, myself included, objected to the memorandum on both procedural and substantive grounds, and said as much in our various writings. See herehere, and here.

My objections to the policy were, and are, that it is another example of constitutionally dubious action by the executive to accomplish what could not be achieved legislatively; that it appears to violate the law relating to parole, which requires consideration on a case-by-case basis, not blanket approvals; and that it was overly broad in that it applied even to family of former military who served even the most minimal period of time or who have beendishonorably discharged — a category of former military that has escalated rapidly in recent years.

My report on parole-in-place for the Center led to media interviews on the subject. Many such interviews are recorded in advance, and subject to editing by the particular medium, so the person interviewed has little input into the final product. One such example was my interview by Fox News. When aired, I was surprised to find my remarks juxtaposed against the interview of a disabled veteran who expressed his gratitude and relief that his wife, illegally in the country, would be permitted to stay.

The same day, I sent a follow-up email to the producer of the piece. I share it because the story that aired is not dissimilar with others I’ve seen both on television and in the newspaper:

[Your] video probably left most viewers with the erroneous impression that the disabled veteran and his wife would not have benefited from parole-in-place had the new policy not been enunciated. Not so. The immigration laws have always permitted the grant of parole-in-place, on a case-by-case basis to deserving individuals such as the wife of the vet whom you interviewed. I doubt any immigration officer would have denied a request for parole-in-place to the wife of the man in this situation.

The objection of critics such as myself is not with parole-in-place, per se. It is that the new DHS policyrequires examiners to grant parole with no opportunity to examine the facts of each individual case, even to persons in circumstances not nearly so deserving as that depicted.

It appears that, in an attempt to be fair and balanced, many media outlets have entirely skewed the facts by presenting the type of sympathetic cherry-picked cases which, in my view, show conclusively that the law ought to have been left alone to be administered as intended because they make no compelling argument whatsoever in favor of riding rough-shod over the case-by-case requirements of the law.

What the media has not shown are those individuals who have benefited under highly questionable circumstances, and of course neither DHS nor the various special interest groups which have touted the policy have any interest in seeing those cases presented to the light of day.

Let me give an example of how this abysmal policy fails to serve the public interest.

The media recently reported that Benjamin Bishop, a Lockheed Martin employee contracted to perform sensitive work for the defense department and who had been charged with spying on behalf of the Chinese government, was set to plead guilty the charges. Apparently the Chinese government used Bishop’s Chinese girlfriend, in the United States as a foreign student, to effect the transfers of classified information. The Fox News account notes that one individual claimed “the two were in love and that the case was about love, not espionage.”

According to the Fox report, in addition to his civilian work Bishop also served as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. And that brings us to the crux of the problem: even with a guilty plea, and even presuming he will be dishonorably discharged from his Reserve duties, if Bishop were to marry his girlfriend, under the terms of the policy memorandum, examiners would be obliged to approve a request for her parole.

But wait, you say, a foreign student isn’t an illegal alien. Well, yes, technically she is in this case. Engaging in a crime such as espionage is not a permitted activity for any nonimmigrant, including foreign students, and having done so puts her out of status.

Next you ask, won’t she be arrested and deported? We don’t know from the media reports and this administration’s track record of enforcing the immigration laws isn’t stellar. But, really, that’s not the point.

The point, my friends, is that the policy, as written, would oblige an examiner to swallow his qualms and approve the request.

Now stop and ask yourself: How many other foreign intelligence agents are out there right now who haven’t been caught, and who need only find a sucker like Bishop to tie the knot?

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