Commentary: The world’s most worthless currency? US immigration affidavits

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“Monopoly money” is a term for useless paper notes. Inflation was so bad in 1930s Weimar Germany, it took literal wheelbarrows of cash to buy groceries. In Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, inflation at one point reached 79,600,000,000% per month; the price of your meal would change during dinner.

Today, Zimbabwe’s 10 trillion dollar note is available on eBay for $69.99. But there’s one piece of paper that’s worth even less: the affidavit of support used in U.S. immigration.

To bring foreign relatives over permanently, American citizens must file immigrant visa petitions for them. An affidavit of support is required as part of the application process. Something similar is now being used for the fictitious “lawful pathways” the Biden administration has invented.

President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security has been abusing a limited immigration power called “parole” to bypass the legal system, bringing in tens of thousands of foreigners a month. If this sounds sketchy, it is. That’s why several states are suing the government, alleging that Biden “effectively created a new visa program—without the formalities of legislation from Congress.”

Parole was meant to be used but rarely—for things like emergency medical care or foreign witnesses needed in court cases. Biden has wielded it on a colossal scale. Uniting for Ukraine was created last year using parole. Thus far it has brought in some 113,000 immigrants. This year, the administration invented yet another new parole program, this one to admit 30,000 Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans. More such fake-visa programs seem to be on the way.

Let’s leave aside for a moment the illegality of these programs, or the fact that people coming in are not vetted for criminal records in their home countries. One thing that’s supposed to make us feel better about all these potentially needy people coming in at once is that their American sponsors have to fill out a declaration of financial support, similar to an affidavit of support.

Who is allowed to sponsor someone to enter on parole status? The bar is so low as to be nearly subterranean. For the Ukraine program, sponsors “must be in lawful status in the United States or a parolee or beneficiary of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).” That means, incredibly, that someone who arrived illegally a year ago can now sponsor someone else to come illegally. And so on.

In theory, the financial sponsor of a Ukrainian is supposed to help the paroled migrant with housing, work and school, and ensure “that the beneficiary’s health care and medical needs are met for the duration of the parole.”

For the Cuban Haitian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan program, the U.S. supporter just “agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their parole.…”

It sounds great – no burden on the taxpayer. However, experience tells us that no one will ever be sued to enforce these worthless promises. To my knowledge, the federal government has never sued to enforce an affidavit of support, although individuals have. It’s just another scene in the immigration Kabuki theater.

Certainly, some sponsors will keep their promises. Others might try, but they won’t have the capacity to handle serious or unexpected health, education or other needs of their parolees. Others might change their minds or lose their own jobs and be unable to help. What happens then? The parolees fall back on Johnny Taxpayer.

A recent report pegs the annual net cost to taxpayers of illegal immigration at $116 billion. Taxpayers in some states are hit harder than others.

In 2020, Illinois, already deeply in debt, passed a law giving Medicare benefits to illegal immigrants over 65. Legislators were told it would cost $2 million a year. The actual cost? Heading north of $1 billion a year, with no sign of stopping.

New York City is spending $8 million a day on hotels and shelters for illegal new residents alone, and Mayor Eric Adams estimates more than $4 billion in unfunded costs so far.

Congress should act to limit Biden’s ability to abuse parole for mass classes and entire nations. They should also legislate some teeth into financial support affidavits used in immigration, by requiring a deposit, collateral or other consequences for sponsors failing to keep their word.

Otherwise, such declarations, like a 2008 Zimbabwean dollar, are worth only the paper they’re printed on.



Simon Hankinson, a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department, is a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center.