By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in its press statement released last August 2, announced the Trump administration’s intention to “terminate two categorical parole programs, consistent with Executive Order (E.O.) 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” including the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) program and the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program to better ensure parole is used only on a case-by-case basis.
“Parole is a process that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter or remain in the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible,” the statement read, noting the programs allowed individuals with approved family-based immigrant petitions to enter and work in the US while waiting for their green cards.
“The decision to end these parole programs ends the expedited processing that was made available to these populations in a categorical fashion. It follows an extensive review to better ensure that parole authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act is exercised on a case-by-case basis when there is a significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reason. Categorical parole refers to programs designed to consider parole for entire groups of individuals based on pre-set criteria,” it added.
“Under these categorical parole programs, individuals have been able to skip the line and bypass the proper channels established by Congress. With the termination of these programs, these individuals will no longer be permitted to wait in the United States for their family-based green card to become available, consistent with the rules that apply to the rest of the world,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said, noting parole should be used on a “case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”
Moreover, USCIS clarified they are just starting the process to terminate both programs and is continuing to review all remaining categorical parole programs.
“USCIS will not terminate any program until we complete required administrative changes to Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and the form is approved for public use.
The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) process will provide notice to the affected individuals, explain the reasons USCIS is taking action, and provide public comment periods on the termination of these programs,” the statement said, with the agency noting they are “committed to exercising this limited authority in a manner that preserves the integrity of our immigration system and does not encourage aliens to unlawfully enter the United States.”
“Current parolees will maintain their current period of parole until its expiration, unless it is otherwise terminated. USCIS will also process all pending cases to completion,” it added.
Injustice to Filipino veterans
According to GMA News, the FWVP program took effect in June 2016 and allowed certain Filipino American family members awaiting immigrant visa issuance to come to the US and be with their loved ones.
Bayanihan Equity Center President and lawyer Lou Tancinco labelled the termination as an injustice to the aging Pinoy veterans.
“This is a compounding injustice to our aging Filipino veterans and families. This FWVP program is a critical need to our veterans and their spouses. We should as a community do our best to advocate against its termination,” Tancinco said.
In another report by ABS-CBN News, parole program bill author Sen. Mazie Hirono said the USCIS decision was Trump’s “pathological need to treat immigrants as cruelly as possible, and to undo any program ever created by Barack Obama.”
Hirono claimed the termination will result in veterans and their families waiting for up to 20 years to obtain their green card and be reunited with their loved ones in the US.