20 GOP-led states ask federal judge to stop immigrant sponsorship program

Washington — Twenty Republican-controlled states filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal judge in Texas to stop a program recently introduced by the Biden administration that would allow up to 30,000 immigrants from four countries to enter the U.S. legally each month if they have sponsors. americans.

Announced by President Biden earlier this month as part of a new strategy To deter illegal border crossings, the program allows eligible immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to live and work in the US legally under a humanitarian immigration authority known as parole.

The Biden administration has argued that the program, along with increased removals of immigrants trying to enter the US illegally, will allow the US to better manage historical migration flows along the border. south in the last two years.

Since the measures were announced in early January, the average daily number of migrants apprehended after crossing the US-Mexico border without legal permission has dropped by more than 40%, according to internal data. government statistics Obtained by CBS News.

But the Texas-led coalition of states alleged in their lawsuit that the sponsorship policy illegally expands the scope of parole authority, which they argued can only be used in extraordinary cases. The states also said that officials should have allowed public comment on the program before implementing it.

The policy, the states wrote in their lawsuit, “amounts to the creation of a new visa program that allows hundreds of thousands of aliens to enter the United States who otherwise would have no basis to do so.”

A decades-old power created by Congress, parole allows US immigration officials to authorize the entry of foreigners who do not possess a visa to enter the country on humanitarian or public interest grounds.

Representatives for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the sponsorship initiative, did not immediately return a request for comment on the states’ lawsuit.

Tuesday’s lawsuit is the start of the latest legal battle between the Biden administration and Republican attorneys general over the fate of US border and immigration policy.

Republican-led states have managed to convince federal judges, many of them appointed by former President Trump, to having key parts of Mr. Biden’s immigration agenda over the past two years.

At the request of Republican attorneys general, the Supreme Court in late December blocked the Biden administration from lifting a Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42 that has allowed the United States to quickly expel hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly to Mexico, on public health grounds. The high court will hear oral arguments in that case on March 1.

The revamped border strategy Biden unveiled this month includes expanding the scope of Title 42, as the Mexican government has pledged to accept up to 30,000 removals per month of immigrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela who attempt to enter the borders illegally. USA

According to court records, the lawsuit filed Tuesday was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee who has already blocked various Biden administration immigration policies at the request of GOP-led states, including a 100-day pause on deportations in early 2021.

The states that joined Texas in suing the Biden administration on Tuesday included Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia. and Wyoming.

The sponsorship policy announced earlier this month builds on two similar programs the Biden administration unveiled last year to allow US citizens and others in the US to financially sponsor the arrival of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland and Venezuelans displaced by the socioeconomic crisis in the South American country.

Since those programs were announced, in April and October 2022, respectively, the US has admitted more than 100,000 Ukrainians and 11,000 Venezuelans under parole authority, according to government data.

US citizens and others with lawful immigration status in the US may apply for immigrant sponsorship under these programs if they pass background checks and demonstrate that they can financially support newcomers.

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