White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre discussed a new program that has cut illegal immigration from four countries by 90%.

During the press briefing on May 1White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre was asked how President Joe Biden wants to “solve this problem of illegal immigration.” As part of her answer to this question, Jean-Pierre highlighted the results of the immigration programs implemented by the current administration.

“And that’s why you see the parole program being so successful,” Jean-Pierre said. “When it comes to illegal immigration, you see it’s gone down by more than 90%, and it’s because of this act — the actions that this president has taken.”

Several VERIFY readers took to Instagram and Twitter to ask if the spokesperson’s statement was true.

QUESTION

Has illegal immigration dropped by more than 90%?

SOURCES

ANSWER

Illegal immigration overall did not decrease by 90%. However, Jean-Pierre did not talk about immigration in general. She discussed the success of a specific program that applies only to migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti. In the first two months of this year, the number of illegal migrants from these countries decreased by 98%.

WHAT WE FOUND

Generally, when people refer to the total number of illegal immigration at any given time, they are referring to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data on the monthly encounters CBP officials have with migrants who are in the United States illegally. While this is not the same as the total number of undocumented migrants entering the U.S. each month, it is the best data available, and it is the data that government officials typically cite. So we’ll use that data for this story.

CBP data press release from March shows that the number of encounters between ports of entry has decreased by 42%. December 2022when the number of encounters was at its most recent peak, and in February 2023, when the number of encounters was at its most recent low.

But Jean-Pierre spoke about a particular program when it referred to a 90% drop.

“Karin said there was no contact because of our parole programs that apply to Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Haiti,” a White House press secretary told VERIFY in an email.

According to a March CBP press release, the seven-day average number of CBP encounters between ports of entry for individuals from these four countries decreased by 98% between January 5th and February 28th.

The parole program allows individuals from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Haiti to apply to travel to the U.S. and stay in the U.S. on “temporary parole” for up to two years. To be eligible, a migrant must have someone in the US who agrees to provide financial support to the migrant during their stay, US Citizenship and Immigration Services says. At the end of those two years, parolees can apply for existing legal immigration pathways for which they may be eligible, including parole extensions, immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, asylum, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

This program was announced on January 5th and became effective on January 6th.

Parole is when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) temporarily allows certain migrants to physically enter or remain in the U.S. when there are “urgent humanitarian or substantial public reasons.” American Immigration Council says.

This program is designed to provide “safe, orderly and legal ways» to the US for people who might otherwise have entered the US illegally.

Republican attorneys general from 20 states filed a lawsuit on January 24 to stop the program. The attorneys general allege that DHS “effectively created a new visa program — without the formalities of congressional legislation.” They say their states are doing harm by allowing so many migrants “to enter each of their already overcrowded territories.”

Supporters of the program claim that it is legal and sue the state did not challenge such a program regarding Ukrainians. Supporters say the program “represents one of the few safe, viable routes into the U.S.,” and without it, “the border will become increasingly chaotic.”

The lawsuit has yet to be ruled on by the U.S. District Court hearing the lawsuit.

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