Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

The Humanitarian Parole Program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans

Para leer en español, vea esta traducción de Google Translate.

Q:  Did the Biden administration secretly fly over 300,000 migrants to the U.S.?

A: As of January, the Department of Homeland Security had admitted about 357,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans it vetted and authorized to fly to the U.S. through a humanitarian parole program. The travelers pay for the flights.


Is it true that the federal government is or was paying for plane tickets to fly illegal migrants into American airports from foreign countries?


Readers have been submitting questions like the one above since former President Donald Trump gave his Super Tuesday victory speech on March 5.

While criticizing President Joe Biden, Trump said, “Today, it was announced that 325,000 people were flown in from parts unknown.” He continued: “They flew 325,000 migrants, flew them in over the borders into our country. So that really tells you where they’re coming from. They want open borders, and open borders are going to destroy our country.”

Trump appears to have been referring to news reports that cited reporting from the Center for Immigration Studies, a self-described “low-immigration, pro-immigrant” group.

In a March 4 post, Todd Bensman, a senior national security fellow for the think tank, wrote about the more than 320,000 migrants who came to the U.S. in 2023 through a humanitarian parole program the Biden administration launched in late 2022 and expanded in early 2023. Bensman said the CIS filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to learn which international airports the migrants flew from, and which U.S. airports they flew to, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to reveal that information, arguing that disclosing the airport locations could jeopardize public safety.

Later, the Daily Mail and some conservative news sites that wrote about Bensman’s analysis said Biden was “flying” hundreds of thousands of migrants “secretly” into the U.S.

But the program is not a secret, nor does the government pay for the flights, as that description may suggest. Also, the migrants are vetted by the government before being allowed into the U.S., contrary to Trump’s claim that they were from “parts unknown.”

Humanitarian Parole Program

The Immigration and Nationality Act gives the Department of Homeland Security secretary the authority to grant parole temporarily to certain noncitizens “on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

In January 2023, DHS announced that it was expanding its almost three-month-old humanitarian parole program for citizens of Venezuela to include nationals of Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua. The expansion was one of a few “border enforcement measures” the department said it was implementing at that time to “improve border security, limit irregular migration, and create additional safe and orderly processes for people fleeing humanitarian crises to lawfully come to the United States.”

(A similar parole program was created in April 2022 for Ukrainians affected by the war with Russia.)

To be considered for advance authorization to travel to the U.S., beneficiaries must have a U.S. sponsor who initiates the application process and is willing and able to assume financial responsibility for them once they are in the country. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services then requires the person seeking parole, and any immediate family members they wish to bring with them, to provide biographic information and attest to their eligibility, including being up to date on public health requirements, such as vaccinations.

Individuals provide that information, and a photo, through a USCIS website and the CBP One app, which was launched in October 2020 and is used for other programs and services managed by CBP. Applicants must have a valid passport for travel and pay for their own commercial airfare.

Once they arrive at a U.S. port of entry, they are interviewed by CBP, which does additional screening and biometric vetting, including fingerprinting, and makes a determination. If approved, the parole program allows the migrants to live in the U.S. for up to two years and apply for employment authorization.

There are 30,000 slots for parolees available per month.

DHS has said that nationals of those four countries who do not follow this process, and try to cross into the U.S. without authorization or a legal basis to do so, will be removed or returned to Mexico, which has agreed to take in as many as 30,000 people monthly.

Not a Secret

Bensman, of the CIS, has described the parole program as “secretive” because CBP does not report all details about the program, such as the airports the authorized migrants are flying to and from. “But never have I called it an outright secret government program,” he wrote, saying such a description was a “common misconception.”

DHS issued press releases about the original parole program for Venezuelans and the expanded one for Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas talked about the program in a Jan. 5, 2023, press conference, and Biden discussed it in a separate press conference at the White House the same day.

USCIS explains the process step by step on its website, and DHS regularly publishes data on the number of applications, travel authorizations and paroles granted under the program.

In a December update, CBP reported that as of the end of 2023, about 349,000 people had been authorized and vetted for travel to the U.S. through the program. Of those who were approved for travel, 327,000 were granted parole. The paroled figure increased to 357,000, as of January.

“These processes are part of the Administration’s strategy to combine expanded lawful pathways with stronger consequences to reduce irregular migration, and have kept hundreds of thousands of people from migrating irregularly,” a DHS spokesperson said in an email to FactCheck.org.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. 


Trump Remarks after Dominant Super Tuesday Performance.” Video. Rev.com. 6 Mar 2024.

Bensman, Todd. “Government Admission: Biden Parole Flights Create Security ‘Vulnerabilities’ at U.S. Airports.” Center for Immigration Studies. 4 Mar 2024.

Bensman, Todd. “Fact Checking the Fact Check: CIS Reporting Stands.” Center for Immigration Studies. 7 Mar 2024.

Caralle, Katelyn. “Biden administration ADMITS flying 320,000 migrants secretly into the U.S. to reduce the number of crossings at the border has national security ‘vulnerabilities.'” Dailymail.com. 4 Mar 2024.

Hathaway, Candace. “Biden admin secretly flew in 320,000 ‘inadmissible’ illegal migrants — admits operation creates ‘vulnerabilities’: Report.” The Blaze. 5 Mar 2024.

McCarthy, Charlie. “Biden Admin Flew 320K Migrants Into US Last Year.” Newsmax. 5 Mar 2024.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Parole Requests Fiscal Year 2023, Second and Third Quarter.” 4 Dec 2023.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “DHS Continues to Prepare for End of Title 42; Announces New Border Enforcement Measures and Additional Safe and Orderly Processes.” Press release. 5 Jan 2023.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “DHS Announces New Migration Enforcement Process for Venezuelans.” Press release. 12 Oct 2023.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans. Accessed 11 Mar 2024.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Secretary Mayorkas Delivers Remarks on DHS’s Continued Preparation for the End of Title 42 and Announcement of New Border Enforcement Measures and Additional Safe and Orderly Processes.” Transcript. 5 Jan 2023.

White House. “Remarks by President Biden on Border Security and Enforcement.” Transcript. 5 Jan 2023.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “CBP Releases December 2023 Monthly Update.” Press release. 26 Jan 2024.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “CBP Releases January 2024 Monthly Update.” Press release. 13 Feb 2024.

Spokesperson, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Statement emailed to FactCheck.org. 10 Mar 2024.