Homeland Security’s legal-immigration agency issued a plea for volunteers to help “parole” Afghans into the U.S., saying they’re seeing “an increasing number of requests” from people still outside the U.S.
The call for volunteers also extends to processing parents the government wants to let back in and give another chance at unifying with their children who were separated during the Trump administration‘s zero tolerance border policy.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in a notice to employees, said it’s looking for people with experience ruling on immigration cases, or as clerical support.
The posting does not require experience deciding the specific and complicated types of cases involved in the Afghan evacuees, who are essentially refugees, the most demanding of any cases USCIS handles. But the notice does promise “requisite training” to get volunteers up to speed.
Volunteer details will last four months and begin this month, the notice said.
It’s the latest in a series of demands for extra help that Homeland Security, and UCCIS in particular, has issued as the Biden administration’s immigration policies have spurred a massive crush of people rushing to the U.S., overwhelming the department’s capabilities.
Volunteers were sought in the spring to handle the unprecedented border surge, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied juveniles overflowing government facilities. And in August USCIS put out a previous call to help resettle Afghans already in the U.S.
This new plea appears to focus on Afghans who have not yet reached the country and are still overseas, trying to enter.
Homeland Security got an infusion of taxpayer cash to deal with the Afghan processing in the stopgap spending bill that cleared Congress last week, but USCIS’s troubles run far deeper than just that processing.
The agency is supposed to be funded by fees paid by immigrants themselves, but an increasing portion of its work is “fee-free,” such as asylum and refugee applications, leaving the agency in financial disarray.
Analysts have warned that calls for volunteers will take people away from processing other applications, effectively making those who do pay fees have to wait longer while the agency works on those who come in for free.
The Washington Times has reached out to USCIS for comment on the scope of the volunteer request and what the expected impact will be on other immigration applications.
While the administration touts the evacuation effort as a chance to rescue Afghans who’d assisted the U.S. war effort and qualified for what’s known as the Special Immigrant Visa, in reality most of the Afghans airlifted out were not in the SIV process.
They are being brought to the U.S. under what’s known as “humanitarian parole,” a special power of the Homeland Security secretary to admit people he deems deserving of unique consideration.
It’s being flexed by Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in unprecedented ways with the Afghan airlift.
Tuesday’s notice says the volunteers may be asked to work on cases paroling families, mostly from Central America, into the U.S. as part of President Biden’s executive order calling for reunification of families separated during the Trump administration.
As the migrant caravans first made their way to the U.S. in 2018, the administration adopted a zero tolerance policy to increase criminal prosecutions for adult border-jumpers, which resulted in them being separated from their children while they went to jail, usually for a few days.
The children were deemed “unaccompanied” and put into government-run shelters, with no capable plan of reuniting them later, and thousands of parents were deported without their children.
The Biden administration is using parole to bring some of them back to reunite with their children, and to give the families a chance to apply for a more permanent place in the U.S.