Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week:
The lack of immigration reform at the legislative level limits the mechanisms through which people can immigrate to the United States through regular and legal channels. And, when executive and administrative programs are established—like the program for people in the United States to sponsor citizens of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela (CHNV) who meet certain criteria—the Republican opposition immediately activates to block them.
The response is clear: for Republicans it’s just a political game whose only purpose is to oppose anything that even hints at help for minorities, especially if they come from the Latin American region. For those searching for solutions from a humanitarian perspective, it’s even a matter of life or death, and human lives are exactly the priority.
On August 24th there will be a hearing in the case Texas v. DHS, the lawsuit filed by Texas and twenty other Republican states against this program, which was modeled after the one created for the Ukranians in April 2022, due to the war with Russia. In October of that same year, a similar program was established for Venezuelans and on January 5th, 2023, it was expanded to include citizens of Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua.
At that moment, before the imminent end of Title 42, the idea of the Biden administration was to relieve pressure at the border and avoid more people continuing to risk their lives in the journey to the United States. With this program, a U.S. citizen can sponsor an immigrant who meets certain requirements. If their application is approved, the migrant will obtain permission to reside in the country for two years.
But states governed by Republicans argued that the program was implemented without following established procedures, and constitutes “unauthorized use of the statutory parole authority.”
What’s curious is that, as we have said, those same states did not complain when the program was created for Ukranians, but do so when the beneficiaries are from the Latin American region.
The case is being heard in the Victoria Division of the Southern District of Texas, before Judge Drew Tipton, who was nominated by Donald Trump and has already blocked Biden migration initiatives. The Justice Department requested, unsuccessfully, for the case to be moved to a different jurisdiction. The Judge denied the motion, indicating that it was speculative to affirm that he would be prejudiced against the Biden administration.
In March, seven U.S. citizens who have sponsored non-citizens or were in the process of doing so filed a motion to be allowed to intervene in the case as defendants along with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and defend the program’s legality. They are represented by the Justice Action Center, RAICES, and the Center for Immigration Law and Policy (CILP) at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law.
One of these sponsors is Professor Germán Cadenas, a U.S. citizen of Venezuelan origin, who was able to bring his Uncle Nelson to the U.S. through this program.
“My uncle was always a person who supported my family my entire life, and he was always like a father figure. He is a very important person that truly deserves an opportunity here in the United States,” Dr. Cadenas indicated.
For the Assistant Professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at Lehigh University, the parole program is important because it’s a way for families to reunify, despite the lack of legal mechanisms to do so, owing to the absence of immigration reform. Especially when they are people who are going through difficult situations in their countries of origin.
“To me, this program seems necessary, positive and good, especially for families who have loved ones where there are rather grave crises. It’s a step forward, toward a more humanitarian immigration system,” Cadenas said.
“That’s why this program is so important, because it is helping many families be united again. Over the last twenty years, the time I have been in the United States, the immigration laws have gotten more and more restrictive, harsher and more anti-immigrant at the federal level,” he added.
Cadenas points out that, obviously, it’s a good first step, but it is not enough. Because “the people who arrive at the border to seek asylum, they should also have the opportunity and right to seek refuge and be able to get out of difficult situations. And we also have more than 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States—I was one of them for many years—who have no option to adjust their migration status and have not had immigration reform in decades.”
In that sense, says Dr. Cadenas, it is unfortunate that racism influences “laws that are motivated to exclude and limit opportunities for people who come from other, non-European countries.” This rejection, admits the academic who specializes in the psychology of undocumented immigrants, translates directly into “depression, anxiety, and less well-being, psychologically, for those migrants.”
That contrast, which is becoming ever more evident these days, contradicts the values of liberty, fairness, human rights, and social justice in which Professor Cadenas firmly believes. He said, “Many of us came to this country because we are looking for those rights, and it’s very sad that they are being attacked.”
To read the Spanish version of this column click here.