United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
ROSENTHAL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Palacios and his sons, Olman Palacios, A.P., and J.J.P., sued
the Department of Homeland Security in August 2019 for
terminating the parole portion of the Central American Minors
Program in August 2017. (Docket Entry No. 1 at 1-2). Olman,
A.P., and J.J.P. were granted a two-year parole term, from
January 20, 2017 to January 19, 2019. (Docket Entry No. 1 at
2; Docket Entry No. 5-3 at 1). They were notified in August
2017 that the Program termination did not affect their
ability to remain in this country through January 19, 2019,
but they would have to leave the country after that unless
they established another basis to remain. (Docket Entry No. 1
at 8; Docket Entry No. 5-1 at 1).
September 2018, just over one year after the August 2017
notification, the sons applied for reparole. (Docket Entry
No. 1 at 8; Docket Entry No. 5-3 at 1). Each filed a Form
I-131, “Application for Travel Document, ” with
the Department. (Docket Entry No. 1 at 8; Docket Entry No.
5-3 at 1). The Department denied those applications on June
17, 2019, and the Palacioses were notified on the same day.
(Docket Entry No. 1 at 8; Docket Entry No. 5-3 at 1). The
Department gave the young men an extension of time
(“[l]imited [p]arole”) until September 15, 2019,
to leave the country or obtain lawful immigration status.
Palacioses applied for a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction to: extend the three sons' parole
until the end of this litigation; prevent the Department from
enforcing the termination of the Parole Program; allow the
sons to remain as if the Program was still in effect and they
had successfully received two-year reparole under the
Program; and require the government to grant or extend their
work authorizations “parallel to their paroles.”
(Docket Entry No. 1 at 3, 13; Docket Entry No. 5 at 1-2). The
government opposed the motion, and the court held oral
argument on September 10, 2019.
carefully reviewing the complaint, the motion, the record,
and the applicable law, the court denies the application. The
Program's termination and the subsequent denial of
reparole will irreparably harm the Palacios family. The
problem is that they failed to demonstrate a likelihood of
success on the merits.
Central American Minors Program, created in 2014 by the Obama
administration, allowed parents lawfully in the United States
to apply to bring their children and other qualifying
relatives from Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador to the
United States. S.A. v. Trump, 363 F.Supp.3d. 1048,
1054 (N.D. Cal. 2018). The Program permitted admission under
refugee status or on temporary parole. Id. The
Department of Homeland Security evaluated whether potential
beneficiaries qualified for refugee status and, if not,
considered them for parole. Id. Parole created no
permanent immigration status. Id. at 1057. It was
granted on a finding that the beneficiary cleared background
vetting; that there was no significant derogatory information
about the beneficiary; that the beneficiary was in danger in
his or her home country; and that the beneficiary had someone
who would provide financial support while the beneficiary was
in the United States. Id.
August 2017, the Trump administration terminated the parole
element of the Program. Id. at 1064. The
administration allowed individuals who were paroled before
the Program's termination to stay in the United States
until their original parole terms expired (barring other
grounds for parole revocation), and invited them to apply for
reparole independent of the eliminated Program by filing a
Form I-131. Id. (quoting Termination of the Central
American Minors Parole Program, 82 Fed. Reg. 38, 926, 38, 927
(Aug. 16, 2017)). The Federal Register notice stated that
“[p]arole will only be issued on a case-by-case basis
and only where the applicant demonstrates an urgent
humanitarian or a significant public benefit reason for
parole and that applicant merits a favorable exercise of
Program termination followed President Trump's January
2017 executive order instructing the Secretary of Homeland
Security to “end the abuse of parole . . .
provisions” by “tak[ing] all appropriate action
to ensure” that the Department granted parole in
compliance with federal law. Id. at 1061 (quoting
Exec. Order No. 13, 767, 82 Fed. Reg. 8793, 8795-96 (Jan. 25,
2017)). The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that
immigration parole may be granted “temporarily”
and “only on a case-by-case basis for urgent
humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” 8
U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5)(A) (2018). In February 2017,
then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly issued a
memorandum stating that “the [Act's] language
appears to strongly counsel in favor of using the parole
authority sparingly.” S.A. v. Trump, 363
F.Supp.3d. at 1063- 64. In August 2017, the Department of
Homeland Security determined that the Central American Minors
Parole Program-which approved 99% of potential beneficiaries
who were not already accepted as refugees-had “provided
parole very broadly and not in accordance with the statu[t]e
and the President's Executive Order, ” which
require a case-by-case determination. Id. at 1054,
1071, 1079 (quoting a 2017 United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services document titled “RTQ [response to
queries]: Termination of the [Central American Minors] Parole
Program”). The Department also stated that the Program
was rescinded as part of “a new strategy to secure the
U.S. southern border.” Id. at 1070-71 (quoting
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
“Leadership Guidance, ” August 2017).
Palacios has had Salvadoran Temporary Protected Status in
this country since 2001. (Docket Entry No. 1 at 3; Docket
Entry No. 5 at 2). He and his wife secured their sons'
presence “safely and legally, ” after years of
working and waiting. (Docket Entry No. 1 at 2). Olman, A.P.,
and J.J.P. arrived in Houston, Texas on two-year parole from
El Salvador on January 20, 2017, the day of President
Trump's inauguration. (Id.). The family had
“worked with Refugee Services of Texas and the
International Organization of Migration in El Salvador to . .
. [organize] extensive interviews in the United States and El
Salvador; obtain passports and other documents to confirm
[family] relationship[s]; [complete] security checks;
[arrange] medical examinations; and [prepare a] travel
itinerary.” (Id. at 7). The family spent over
$10, 000 on the original parole applications and almost $2,
000 on the reparole applications. (Id. at 7-8). The
children developed strong ties to America. Olman is working,
A.P. is starting his senior year of high school, and J.J.P.
is a junior in high school. (Id. at 3; Docket Entry
No. 5 at 7).
approximately August 27, 2017, the three sons received notice
that the Central American Minors Parole Program had ended.
(Docket Entry No. 1 at 8; Docket Entry No. 5-1 at 1). This
was 11 days after the Trump administration announced that it
was ending the Program. (Docket Entry No. 5-1 at 1). The
notices stated that to obtain reparole independent of the
terminated Program, Olman, A.P., and J.J.P. each must file a
Form I-131 and establish “that there are urgent
humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for [him]
to remain in the United States.” (Id.). The
notices also stated that the Program termination did not
affect the original parole period, meaning they could remain
legally until January 19, 2019, and that they “may be
eligible for other immigration options.” (Docket Entry
No. 5-1 at 1-2; Docket Entry No. 5-3 at 1).
government received the three Form I-131 reparole
applications on September 11, 2018. (Docket Entry No. 5-3 at
1). On June 17, 2019, the sons were notified that reparole
was denied and that they had until September 15, 2019-eight
months after their original parole had ended-to leave the
United States or obtain lawful immigration status.
(Id.; Docket Entry No. 1 at 8).
convenience, the timeline of events is summarized below:
• 2014: the Obama administration created the Central
American Minors Parole Program.
• January 20, 2017: Olman Palacios, A.P., and J.J.P.
arrived in the United States for a ...