Fact Check: Biden Has NOT 'Secretly Flown 320,000 Illegal Immigrants From Latin American Airports' to US Cities

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Biden Has NOT 'Secretly Flown 320,000 Illegal Immigrants From Latin American Airports' to US Cities Allowed Entry

Has President Joe Biden "secretly flown 320,000 illegal immigrants from Latin American airports to 43 U.S. cities"? No, that's not true: The Biden administration called the claim "categorically false," noting it had publicly announced the immigration program in January 2023. The program includes individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The announcement stated that those granted permission to enter the country must "arrange and fund their own travel."

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published on X (formerly Twitter) by internet personality Collin Rugg on March 5, 2024. The post's caption said:

REPORT: Joe Biden has secretly flown 320,000 illegal immigrants from Latin American airports to 43 U.S. cities.


It gets even worse. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is refusing to identify which airports they are being shipped to.

'The program at the center of the FOIA litigation is perhaps the most enigmatic and least-known of the Biden administration's uses of the CBP One cellphone scheduling app, even though it is responsible for almost invisibly importing by air 320,000 aliens with no legal right to enter the United States since it got underway in late 2022,' said journalist Todd Bensman (@BensmanTodd)

'Under these legally dubious parole programs, aliens who cannot legally enter the country use the CBP One app to apply for travel authorization and temporary humanitarian release from those airports. The parole program allows for two-year periods of legal status during which adults are eligible for work authorization.'


This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Mar 6 16:20:07 2024 UTC)

The post

Rugg's claim has been widely reposted across social media, including being shared and amplified by X owner Elon Musk (archived here) on March 5, 2024. The caption to Musk's post said:

Treason indeed! Ushering in vast numbers of illegals is why Secretary Mayorkas was impeached by the House.

They are importing voters. This is why groups on the far left fight so hard to stop voter ID requirements, under the absurd guise of protecting the right to vote.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Mar 6 18:34:11 2024 UTC)

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House press secretary under former President Donald Trump, shared a similar post on social media (archived here). She said:

The President of the United States has been secretly flying illegal immigrants into the country.

This administration operates in secret and has been lying to the American people about their disastrous border policies.

White House

White House Assistant Press Secretary Angelo Fernández Hernández responded directly to Sanders' claim and indirectly to the others in a series of posts (archived here) on X on March 6, 2024. He said:

This is categorically false. Working within its authorities, the Admin has expanded lawful pathways for orderly and humane migration. Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans have a U.S. sponsor and are thoroughly screened before being authorized to travel to the U.S.

Migrants who are authorized to travel to the U.S. purchase their own airfare and are again vetted upon arrival at the airport. This is a lawful process that cuts out smugglers seeking to take advantage of vulnerable individuals considering migrating.

To say this program is 'secret' is laughably false. The President announced the CHNV processes in January 2023.

A White House "Fact Sheet" (archived here), released at the time, detailed the parole process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans (CHNV).

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website says, under the "What Is Parole" subheading, "Parole allows an individual, who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission into the United States, to be paroled into the United States for a temporary period."

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Mar 6 22:19:16 2024 UTC)

Department of Homeland Security

Piggybacking on Hernández's response on X, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesperson provided this statement to Lead Stories in a March 6, 2024, email. It said:

More than 14 months ago, on January 5, 2023, DHS announced processes providing certain Cubans, Haitians, and Nicaraguans who have a supporter in the United States, undergo and clear robust security vetting, and meet other eligibility criteria, to come to the United States in a safe, orderly, and lawful way.

These processes were built on the success of the process for Venezuelans. These processes are publicly available online, and DHS has been providing regular updates on their use to the public.

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. The CHNV parole processes are public; claims of a secret program are false.

The full details of the "Processes for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans" program are available on the USCIS website, which include these key points:

DHS has announced processes through which nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and their immediate family members, may request to come to the United States in a safe and orderly way. Qualified beneficiaries who are outside the United States and lack U.S. entry documents may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for advanced authorization to travel and a temporary period of parole for up to two years for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. To participate, eligible beneficiaries must:

  • Have a supporter in the United States;
  • Undergo and clear robust security vetting;
  • Meet other eligibility criteria; and
  • Warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.

Read more

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to Biden can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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