Democrats call on Biden to create parole program for noncitizens to allow work

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(The Center Square) – Legislators, labor organizers and advocates in Illinois are urging President Joe Biden, through a resolution, to authorize the establishment of a parole and work authorization program for noncitizen migrants residing in the state.

Advocates said creating a program is urgent because it would help address the state’s labor shortage that is impacting sectors such as health care, education and hospitality.

Andres Rizo works with Pilsen Neighbors Community Council and is undocumented. He does not have a work permit.

“So we are relying on the president to use his executive authority to grant parole. We have seen him grant parole to various populations,” Rizo said at a Wednesday news conference. “For example, the spouses and family members of military vets, also the recent arrivals they have been put in through a program [Temporary Protected Status], which is similar to parole. We’re asking for him to use his executive authority to grant parole.”

State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, said Illinoisans come first and anyone who is here illegally shouldn’t have the same opportunities as legal U.S. citizens. Niemerg said Democrats in the state created the labor shortage crisis.

“This is an example of the Democrats creating a problem and then coming in through the back door with a solution and the solution is to fund our work shortage issues with illegal immigrants? I don’t think so,” said Niemerg.

A record number of foreign nationals illegally enter the U.S. each month, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, and tens of thousands of them have been bused to the Chicago area.

Niemerg said the U.S. border is wide open and called the push from Democrats for more work permits to be issued a “Democrat-voter registration” drive.

“That’s what we are dealing with in Illinois. These policies don’t help folks who are trying to be here legally and work and thrive. We all want folks to come here legally and have the American Dream. But this perpetuation of a permanent underclass of folks that can be here illegally just to make sure the Democrats have power, it disenfranchises everybody who wants to come here legally,” he said. “This is just another political tool the Democrats are using.”

Rizo said if the undocumented would be allowed parole they would use their legal entry to their benefit and fix their status. He was asked if the program would perpetuate a permanent underclass that disenfranchises undocumented immigrants who want to become documented.

“This program doesn’t block people from becoming citizens, it actually would permit a large majority of our population to get citizenship, not directly but for many people who are in need of legal entry to be able to fix their status,” Rizo said. “To the millions of families who are married to U.S. citizens but because they don’t have legal entry, they can’t fix their status. If they were given parole and were allowed to leave the country and come back legally that would give them the benefit of being able to fix their status. Parole is not a permanent solution, but it could be a vital solution for a lot of people.”

Under U.S. immigration law, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has discretion to grant “parole” to certain noncitizens to allow them to enter or temporarily remain in the United States for specific reasons. Advocates want the president to expand the parole program to include all long-term undocumented immigrants.

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