Reports of hundreds of migrants being flown to Phoenix and released at a bus station are missing half the story -- these women and children are seeking asylum in the United States.
The people being released are doing so under what's called humanitarian parole, allowing them to stay in the United States for the time being.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency."
The Phoenix Restoration Project is a local group that helps provide the necessities for asylum-seekers dropped off at the Phoenix Greyhound station.
Jason Odhner, a volunteer for the Phoenix Restoration Project, says the process of migrants being dropped off at the station is nothing new and has been going on for years. It's only in the last week that this process involved hundreds of people in a matter of days. The Phoenix Restoration Project has been helping get any basic supplies to the migrants coming into Phoenix, as well as helping to put them in touch with any friends or relatives in the United States, and helping arrange for their transport there.
"We've had to do a lot of scrambling to make sure basic needs are met," he says.
Many times, asylum-seekers are held in immigration detention facilities while their court process goes on. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement information, this particular parole process is used in cases of "family reunification" and in the cases of children, which is why these Central American women and their children are being released, in addition to overcrowding at the immigration facilities in Texas, where these people came into the country.
As part of the asylum process, the women have to go through an interview with immigration officials, to prove "credible fear" of returning to their home country.
Odhner says the women being dropped off at the Greyhound station have documentation to this effect, including court dates they must show up for.
Thus, they're not truly undocumented. According to the USCIS, it's possible for people on this parole status to gain a more-permanent authorization in the country:
It is possible that a parolee can adjust to a permanent immigration status from parolee (e.g., parolees granted asylum, beneficiary of a relative petition, Cubans through the Cuban Adjustment Act, etc.), but parole in and of itself does not lead to a more permanent status.
Meanwhile, Republican politicians like Governor Jan Brewer, Congressman Paul Gosar, and gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey have bounced on the reports as a way to blast the Obama administration. Gosar's even calling for an investigation from a congressional committee, and Brewer has blamed the Obama administration's "refusal" to secure the border, although many times, asylum-seekers will present themselves at a port of entry.
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