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Texas leads lawsuit against Biden administration’s new immigration policy

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Texas leads lawsuit against Biden administration’s new immigration policy

Jan 24, 2023 | 6:24 pm ET
By Uriel J. García
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Texas leads lawsuit against Biden administration’s new immigration policy
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to supporters after being sworn in to office on Jan. 10. Paxton’s office joined other Republican-led states in suing the Biden administration Tuesday over a new immigration policy. (Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune)

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Biden administration, claiming a new immigration program the president announced last month that would allow 360,000 people a year from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to enter the country is illegal.

Texas, which is leading a coalition of 20 states, filed the lawsuit in a federal district court in Victoria.

Last month, Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced a parole program that would allow 30,000 people per month to legally enter the U.S. from the four countries if they apply from their home countries, pass a background check and prove they have a financial supporter in the U.S.

If they’re approved, they can stay in the country for up to two years and get a work permit. Once in the country, they would be able to request asylum.

As part of the plan, the Biden administration also began to use the emergency health order known as Title 42 to expel the same number of migrants from those four countries to Mexico if they attempt to enter the U.S. illegally. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Mexico agreed to accept up to 30,000 migrants a month from those countries under Title 42.

The lawsuit says the parole program was modeled after the same program that allowed Ukrainians to enter the U.S. after the Russian invasion in February 2022. But the latest parole program does not meet the criteria for it to be legal, the lawsuit claims.

“The parole program established by the Department fails each of the law’s three limiting factors. It is not case-by-case, is not for urgent humanitarian reasons, and advances no significant public benefit,” the lawsuit says.

Many people leaving Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela are fleeing political instability and violence from local gangs. The U.S. has imposed economic sanctions on the countries and some of their political leaders, accusing its governments of human rights abuses and political corruption.

Texas has filed more than 20 lawsuits in federal court against the Biden administration, many of them targeting the president’s immigration policies. A majority of the lawsuits have been filed in courtrooms overseen by Trump-appointed judges.

Paxton’s office has been successful in temporarily halting some of the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Most recently, Texas joined an Arizona-led lawsuit that has forced the administration to continue enforcing Title 42, which the Trump administration invoked in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to expel migrants to Mexico without allowing them to claim asylum.