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In the Twilight Zone: Record Number of U.S. Immigrants Are in Limbo Statuses

August 08, 2023 (1 min read)

Muzaffar Chishti and Kathleen Bush-Joseph, MPI, Aug. 2, 2023

"The Biden administration’s embrace of executive authority to grant immigration protections has resulted in a ballooning number of individuals living in the United States with temporary statuses. A record 1.9 million migrants have entered the United States, received authorization to do so, or are present via a twilight immigration status that does not automatically confer any path to permanent residence but temporarily shields recipients from deportation for at least one year, and in many cases offers permission to work legally. Additionally, more than 700,000 other migrants have been allowed to enter the United States through even shorter-term immigration parole to undergo removal proceedings. Whether via humanitarian parole, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or other programs, the Biden administration has made the grant of liminal status a hallmark of its immigration policy. This is a further sign of the administration’s reliance on executive authority in the absence of congressional action to respond to today’s immigration realities, which include record unauthorized arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border and humanitarian crises. These twilight statuses allow the government to quickly address what can be fast-developing situations. They also provide welcome relief to migrants who might otherwise be forced to live in or return to countries beset by war, natural disasters, or other crises. But they leave their holders in limbo and, by swelling the numbers of people in impermanent status, ultimately raise policy and integration issues that will not go away if unaddressed. ..."