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GOP-led states challenge Biden’s new migration ‘parole’ program

Texas and other states compared the initiative, announced this month, to the 'creation of a new visa program'

Immigrants, most from Venezuela, are escorted by Mexican immigration agents after being expelled from the United States on Jan. 9 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Immigrants, most from Venezuela, are escorted by Mexican immigration agents after being expelled from the United States on Jan. 9 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (John Moore/Getty Images)

A group of 20 Republican-led states urged a Texas federal court Tuesday to strike down a recent government program that allows migrants from certain countries to apply for temporary immigration status, in yet another suit against the administration’s immigration efforts.

Texas and other states argue in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, that the Department of Homeland Security exceeded its legal authority when it rolled out the migration initiative.

The program, announced earlier this month, is the administration’s latest attempt to deter asylum-seekers from crossing the border without authorization. It would permit a combined 30,000 migrants per month from Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela, who have American sponsors, to apply to come to the U.S. for up to two years under a temporary status known as parole.

In turn, the government also would have the authority to expel back to Mexico the same number of migrants from those countries each month if they cross the border without authorization.

But the states argued that the migration initiative “amounts to the creation of a new visa program” that will allow hundreds of thousands of migrants to enter the country per year who would not have otherwise been eligible.

“The Department does not have the authority to invite more than a third of a million more illegal aliens into the United States annually as it has announced with this program,” the lawsuit states.

The Republican-led states also claimed they would incur significant financial harm if the parole program is left in effect.

Texas, which is leading the state coalition, alleged it has spent hundreds of millions in health care benefits and public education for migrant children, and an increase in these expenses would strain the state’s ability to fund other essential services.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a Tuesday news release that the states — particularly border states — are “being crushed by the impacts of illegal immigration.”

“The Biden open borders agenda has created a humanitarian crisis that is increasing crime and violence in our streets, overwhelming local communities, and worsening the opioid crisis,” Paxton said. “This unlawful amnesty program, which will invite hundreds of thousands of aliens into the U.S. every year, will only make this immigration crisis drastically worse.”

The administration’s program, which follows a “carrot-and-stick” model to deter migrants from traveling to the border, has drawn backlash from immigrant advocates as well. Following the announcement of the program, refugee leaders sharply condemned the administration’s decision to pair the expansion of legal migration pathways with increased enforcement at the border.

The lawsuit is the latest in a growing pile of litigation led by Republican states against the Biden administration border policies.

Since President Joe Biden took office, Republican attorneys general have sued the administration over its effort to rescind Trump-era green card limits, to terminate pandemic-related asylum restrictions, to codify protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children and to narrow its immigration enforcement priorities.

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