Judge Upholds Biden Program Allowing 30,000 Migrants Into US Monthly

houston — A federal judge in Texas on Friday upheld a key piece of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy that allows a limited number of migrants from four countries to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, dismissing a challenge from Republican-led states that said the program created an economic burden on them.

U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton ruled in favor of the humanitarian parole program that allows a total of 30,000 asylum-seekers into the U.S. each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela combined.

Eliminating the program would undercut a broader policy that seeks to encourage migrants to use the Biden administration’s preferred pathways into the U.S. or face stiff consequences.

Texas and 20 other states that sued argued the program is forcing them to spend millions on health care, education and public safety for the migrants. An attorney working with the Texas attorney general’s office in the legal challenge said that the program “created a shadow immigration system.”

Advocates for the federal government countered that migrants admitted through the policy helped with a U.S. farm labor shortage.

An appeal appeared likely.

Esther Sung, an attorney for Justice Action Center, which represented seven people who were sponsoring migrants as part of the program, said she was looking forward to calling her clients to let them know of the court’s decision.

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

A message was left seeking comment from the Texas attorney general’s office.

During an August trial in Victoria, Texas, Tipton declined to issue any temporary order that would have halted the parole program nationwide. Tipton is an appointee of former President Donald Trump who ruled against the Biden administration in 2022 on an order that determined whom to prioritize for deportation.

Some states said the initiative has benefited them.

Tipton questioned how Texas could be claiming financial losses if data showed that the parole program actually reduced the number of migrants coming into the U.S.

Proponents of the policy also faced scrutiny from Tipton, who questioned whether living in poverty was enough for migrants to qualify. Elissa Fudim, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice, responded: “I think probably not.”

Federal government attorneys and immigrant rights groups said that in many cases, Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans are also fleeing oppressive regimes, escalating violence and worsening political conditions that have endangered their lives.

The lawsuit did not challenge the use of humanitarian parole for tens of thousands of Ukrainians who came after Russia’s invasion.

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

The lawsuit is among several legal challenges the Biden administration has faced over immigration policies.

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