The judge rejects Republican states’ challenge to grant migrants from four countries access to the program

(Eric Gay/associated press)

The judge rejects Republican states’ challenge to grant migrants from four countries access to the program

Immigration and the border


March 8, 2024

The Biden administration can continue implementing a program that allows a limited number of migrants from four countries to enter the US on humanitarian grounds, after a federal judge on Friday rejected a challenge from Republican-led states.

U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton said Texas and 20 other states have not shown that they have suffered financial harm as a result of the humanitarian parole program that lets up to 30,000 asylum seekers into the U.S. each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela combined. That was something that the states had to prove that they had legal standing to bring the lawsuit.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court did not address the legality of the program, Tipton wrote.

Eliminating the program would undermine a broader policy that seeks to encourage migrants to use the Biden administration’s preferred routes to the U.S. or face harsh consequences.

The states, led by Texas, had argued that the program forces them to spend millions on health care, education and public safety for the migrants. An attorney who worked with the Texas attorney general’s office on the legal battle said the program created a shadow immigration system.

Federal government advocates countered that migrants admitted through the program were helping with the shortage of U.S. agricultural workers.

The White House welcomed the ruling.

The district court’s decision is based on the success of this program, which has expanded legal pathways for nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who have a sponsor in this country and have passed our rigorous vetting process, while dramatically reducing the number of nationals . from the countries crossing our southwest border, White House spokesman Angelo Fernndez Hernndez said.

The Texas attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. A call from Texas and the other states seemed likely.

Since the launch of the program in the fall of 2022, more than 357,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela have been paroled and allowed to enter the country through January. Haitians are by far the largest group using the program: 138,000 people come from that country, followed by 86,000 Venezuelans, 74,000 Cubans and 58,000 Nicaraguans.

Migrants must apply online, arrive at an airport and have a financial sponsor in the US. If approved, they can stay for two years and receive a work permit.

President Biden has made unprecedented use of parole, which has been in place since 1952 and allows presidents to admit people for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public interest.

Esther Sung, an attorney with the Justice Action Center, which represented seven people who sponsored migrants as part of the program, said she looks forward to calling her clients to inform them of the court’s decision.

‘It’s a popular programme. People want to welcome other people to this country,” she said.

Valerie Laveus, one of seven represented by the Justice Action Center, sponsored her brother and cousin and they arrived in Florida from conflict-ridden Haiti in August. They are thriving in their new lives, she said, and her cousin has a newfound normalcy and is able to do things

like like

Play basketball outside without having to worry about safety. Her brother works in construction.

Laveus said she is grateful for the legal outcome, adding that people who enter the country through the program contribute to society.

“I’m ecstatic, not only for my family, but for all the other families who are still waiting,” she said.

During an August trial in Victoria, Texas, Tipton refused to issue a temporary injunction that would halt the parole program nationwide. Tipton is an appointee of former President Trump who ruled against the Biden administration in 2022 over an order that determined who should be prioritized for deportation.

Some states said the initiative has benefited them. One Nicaraguan admitted to the country through the process filled a job on a farm in Washington state that was struggling to find workers.

Tipton questioned how Texas could claim financial losses if data showed the parole program would actually reduce the number of migrants coming to the U.S.

The court has before it a case in which plaintiffs claim they were harmed by a program that actually lowered their out-of-pocket costs, Tipton said in Friday’s ruling.

When the policy took effect, the Biden administration had been preparing to end a pandemic-era policy at the border known as Title 42, which barred migrants from seeking asylum at ports of entry and many who entered illegally to be turned off immediately.

Supporters of the policy also drew criticism from Tipton, who questioned whether living in poverty was enough to make migrants eligible. Elissa Fudim, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, responded: I think probably not.

Lawyers for the federal government and immigrant rights groups said Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans are also in many cases fleeing oppressive regimes, escalating violence and worsening political conditions that endanger their lives.

The lawsuit did not challenge the use of humanitarian parole for tens of thousands of Ukrainians who came after Russia’s 2022 invasion. It is one of several legal challenges the Biden administration has faced over its immigration policies.

The program’s proponents said each case is reviewed individually and that some people who reached the final approval step after arriving in the U.S. have been rejected, although they did not provide the number of rejections that occurred.

Friday’s decision is a clear victory and confirmation that humanitarian immigration parole is an indispensable, necessary and model program for the kind of smart solutions we must focus on to ease pressure on the border and modernize our broken immigration system, said Todd Schulte, president of immigration advocacy group

Lozano writes for the Associated Press. AP writers Rebecca Santana in Washington, Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas, and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.


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