Judge upholds program that allows 30,000 migrants from 4 countries into the U.S. each month


HOUSTON — The Biden administration can keep operating a program that allows a limited number of migrants from four countries to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds after a federal judge on Friday dismissed a challenge from Republican-led states.

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

“In reaching this conclusion, the Court does not address the lawfulness of the Program,” Tipton wrote.

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.

The states, led by Texas, had 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.

The White House welcomed the ruling.

“The district court’s decision is based on the success of this program, which has expanded lawful pathways for nationals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who have a sponsor in this country and pass our rigorous vetting process, while dramatically decreasing the number of nationals from those countries crossing our Southwest Border,” White House spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández said.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment. An appeal by Texas and the other states seemed likely.

Since the program was launched in fall 2022, more than 357,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela have been granted parole and allowed to enter the country through January. Haitians have been the biggest group to use the program with 138,000 people from that country arriving, 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 U.S. If approved, they can stay for two years and get a work permit.

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