January 31, 2023

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(WASHINGTON) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading 20 states suing the Biden administration over a federal migrant parole program announced earlier this month.

The program opened up asylum applications in the US to up to 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela each month. President Joe Biden launched the program as part of a series of new border enforcement measures, which include a commitment by the Mexican government to accept up to 30,000 migrants from those four countries if they don’t meet the requirements for asylum or parole.

In a Tuesday press release, Paxton’s office argued that the program “unlawfully creates a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of foreigners.”

Along with Texas, 19 mostly GOP-led states joined the lawsuit, which was filed in the southern district of the US District Court of Texas.

“Every state in America, especially border states like Texas, is being crushed by the effects of illegal immigration. The Biden open borders agenda has created a humanitarian crisis that is increasing crime and violence on our streets, overwhelming local communities and worsening the opioid crisis,” Paxton said.

“This unlawful amnesty program that will invite hundreds of thousands of foreigners to the United States each year will only drastically worsen this immigration crisis,” he continued.

An administration official who briefed reporters on Biden’s enforcement actions Wednesday said he was confident he had the legal authority to implement that program.

“Many leaders of these states keep claiming that we need to secure the border, but then they turned around and tried to block any action we are taking to do just that,” the official said. “They don’t want real solutions. They prefer to keep using immigration to try and score political points.”

That view echoes what the White House said earlier this month when it accused in-office Republicans of “playing political games and obstructing real solutions to fix our broken immigration system.”

“Until and unless Congress provides the funding and sweeping immigration reform measures President Biden is calling for, the broken United States immigration system will remain broken,” the White House said at the time.

Preliminary data released by the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday showed the new border protection measures, which include the probation program, are working, Department officials said.

Arrests of Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans by border police have fallen by 97% since December. The average number of arrests of migrants from these countries – a key indicator of illegal migration – is 115 a day, according to the agency, up from 3,367 a day in early December.

However, some immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers have also criticized the president’s parole program for giving migrants too narrow a route to seek asylum.

In order to be able to apply, asylum seekers must meet strict requirements, such as B. the application from their home country, and have a sponsor in the USA who can support them financially. The deal with Mexico to expel up to 30,000 migrants from the four countries each month also opens the door for more expulsions under Title 42, a public health policy implemented by President Donald Trump in the early days of COVID-19 that quickly expels and deters migrants from seeking asylum citing the risk of the virus spreading.

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Californian Alex Padilla issued a joint statement following the president’s announcement earlier this month. The three particularly criticized the continued use of Title 42 for expulsions of migrants.

“Continuing these failed and inhumane Trump-era policies to deal with a public health crisis will do nothing to restore the rule of law at the border. Instead, border crossings will increase over time, further enriching human smuggling networks,” they said. “We’re pleased that Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Haitians are gaining more access to probation, but this small accomplishment will exclude thousands of migrants fleeing violence and persecution who lack the ability or economic means to compete in the new.” to qualify for probation.”

America First Legal, a conservative group founded by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, is also implicated in the case. Alaska is one of 20 states that are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, alleging that they face “substantial, irreparable harm from the Department’s abuse of probation power, potentially allowing hundreds of thousands of additional aliens into each of their already-overwhelmed territories.”

The lawsuit alleges, in part, that 5,000 to 11,000 immigrants reside illegally in Alaska, alleging that it spends up to $72 million a year on education, health care, public assistance and general government services on them.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the American Immigration Council, said Alaska’s involvement in the lawsuit shows “how fundamentally frivolous” it is.

“For Alaska to attempt to suggest that a program allowing Cubans legal entry into the country will lead to an increase in undocumented immigrants in Alaska is fundamentally frivolous,” Reichlin-Melnick said. “No one should be able to say that with a straight face. Alaska will not be inundated with migrants — that’s just the reality.”

“They are not connected to the continental United States, and that would require migrants to travel all the way to the border, cross the border, enter Canada, travel through Canada, and then back into the United States to get to Alaska ” said Reichlin – said Melnick.

The lawsuit is the latest legal battle border-near and largely GOP-led states have waged against the Biden administration’s immigration policies, which they describe as “ruthless.” These states have in several instances attempted to undermine the federal government’s agenda on a variety of issues, including Biden’s attempt to dismantle Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and continue to bar young migrants from pending deportation.

The new lawsuit also challenges the fact that the parole program was instituted without going through the notification and comment determination process that states allege the administration is required to do.

However, another program aimed at Ukrainian citizens fleeing the Russian invasion, launched in April 2021, has similar requirements for asylum seekers. It had not been challenged in court, Reichlin-Melnick stated.

“We see them filing a lawsuit to try to bar Cubans, Nicaraguans, Haitians and Latinos from entering the United States in exactly the same way that Ukrainians are not allowing any legal challenge from the same plaintiffs at all would. ” he said.

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