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The top Republicans on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees are demanding answers from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Mayorkas on Nov. 22, accusing him and his agency of “flagrant violation of immigration law.”
The lawmakers seek detailed information on the DHS’s creation of a program on Oct. 12 that allowed 24,000 Venezuelan nationals to enter the United States under parole authority, which isn’t a legal status, but grants entry and work authorization for a year.
Under immigration law, which is decided by Congress, parole authority was carved out as an exception to the law that all inadmissible and illegal aliens be detained until their status is determined, after which they’re either deported or granted entry with a legal status.
Parole authority permits entry on “a case-by-case basis” for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit,” according to the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Its parameters were narrowed by Congress in 1996 “in response to increasing abuse,” Grassley and Jordan stated.
“In 2008 the Bush Administration noted that ‘parole is an extraordinary measure, sparingly used only in urgent or emergency circumstances. … Parole is not to be used to circumvent normal visa processes and timelines,’” the letter states.
Mayorkas’s DHS has been using parole authority on a mass scale this year, first to alleviate swamped Border Patrol stations as illegal crossings spiked; then to allow in tens of thousands of Ukrainians; and more recently, Venezuelans. Parole authority is now being used to pre-approve thousands of likely illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America while they’re still in Mexico.
During fiscal year 2022, which ended on Sept. 30, Border Patrol processed and released more than 378,000 illegal aliens under the Biden administration’s new “Parole+ATD” category, according to CBP data. ATD is an Alternatives to Detention program, which is acting as a workaround of the legal requirement to detain illegal aliens.
In the DHS notice informing of the new process for 24,000 Venezuelan nationals, the agency says “Venezuelans approved via this process will be authorized on a case-by-case basis to travel to the United States by air directly to an interior port of entry, thus relieving pressure at the border.” DHS promised to return to Mexico any Venezuelans who crossed the border illegally.
Grassley and Jordan said DHS has since admitted that the 24,000 was the “initial commitment.”
“You have described this new program as a ‘new lawful pathway created’ for Venezuelan nationals to enter and live in the United States,” Grassley and Jordan state.
“The Secretary of DHS cannot legally ‘create’ any such ‘pathway’ and your assertion otherwise is just another example of how the Biden Administration displays contempt for enforcing federal immigration law as set by Congress.”
Over the past two years, Border Patrol agents have arrested an increasing number of Venezuelans after they crossed the border illegally.
During fiscal year 2022, Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 187,000 Venezuelan nationals after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Customs and Border Protection data. That number was almost 48,000 in fiscal 2021 and 1,227 in fiscal 2020.
In September, Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) raised concern about Venezuelan criminals coming to the United States.
“DHS confirms that Venezuela empties prisons and sends violent criminals to our southern border,” Nehls wrote on Twitter.
In a follow-up, Nehls and 13 other congress members wrote to Mayorkas demanding answers. Nehls’s spokesman told The Epoch Times on Nov. 23 that his office is yet to receive a response.
One of the 24 questions Grassley and Jordan’s letter asks Mayorkas is if his agency queries any Venezuelan security and criminal databases before granting parole.
They also want to know what happens when the parole term expires and the consequences if a parolee fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the status.
The lawmakers gave Mayorkas until Dec. 6 to respond.
On the same day, several Republicans held a press conference in El Paso, Texas, the latest border city to hit the headlines after illegal border crossings started to spike in September.
The presumptive Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy called for Mayorkas to resign.
“If he does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure to determine whether we should begin an impeachment inquiry.” McCarthy said.
Republicans began calling for Mayorkas’s impeachment in 2021 as the volume of illegal immigrants hit the record books. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) introduced an impeachment resolution in the 117th Congress that currently has 32 co-sponsors, all Republican.
Mayorkas has maintained that the border is secure and that his focus is to create a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.