20 States Sue to Stop Migrant Sponsorship Program

Twenty Republican-controlled states recently filed a lawsuit in a Texas federal district court requesting that the judge immediately stop a new humanitarian parole program that the Biden administration announced in January. Under the terms of Biden’s plan, up to 30,000 eligible migrants from four countries will be legally admitted to the U.S. each month if they have U.S. sponsors.

The plan is the Biden administration’s latest attempt to quell the surge of migrants and unlawful border crossings at the nation’s southern border. Under the newest strategy, modeled after a similar successful program for Ukrainian refugees last year, eligible migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela will be able to legally enter, live, and work in the U.S. on parole. The program aims to determine illegal border crossings and stop migrants from gathering at the borders in large numbers in unsafe and often squalid conditions. Since the Biden administration announced the program in early January, the average number of daily apprehensions of migrants trying to cross the border illegally has decreased by 40%.

The states who filed the lawsuit argue that the sponsorship policy illegally expands the scope of the government’s parole authority under federal law, which is only available in extraordinary circumstances. The states also contend that the government should have published notice of the program and given the public the opportunity to comment on it before implementing it. The Republican-led states characterize the program as a “new visa program” that authorizes thousands of migrants to enter the country who otherwise have no legal basis for doing so.

Congress created parole authority decades ago for immigration officials to allow foreign nationals without visas to enter the country for humanitarian or public interest reasons. Since implementing the latest parole programs for Ukrainians in April 2022 and Venezuelans in October 2022, the U.S. has admitted more than 100,000 Ukrainians and 11,000 Venezuelans.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of lawsuits by Republican-controlled states seeking to halt the establishment of immigration-related policies and programs by the Biden administration over the past two years. For instance, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Biden administration in late December from lifting Title 42, a Trump-era public health-derived border restriction that allowed the U.S. to remove hundreds of thousands of migrants expeditiously.

The recently filed lawsuit has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee who already has blocked several Biden administration immigration policies. For example, Judge Tipton disallowed the administration to implement a 100-day pause on removals in early 2021.

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