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Trial begins in Texas in the lawsuit over Biden’s policy that allows migrants from four countries to enter the US

HOUSTON (AP) — A key element of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy, which grants parole to thousands of people from Central America and the Caribbean, was scheduled to be discussed early Thursday in a Texas federal courtroom.

The humanitarian parole program allows up to 30,000 people to enter the US monthly from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Texas is leading a lawsuit filed by 21 Republican states to shut down the program, arguing that the Biden administration has overstepped its authority. Other programs the government has implemented to curb illegal immigration also faced legal challenges.

The parole program for Venezuelans was started in the fall of 2022 and then expanded in January. Participants must apply online, arrive at an airport, and have a financial sponsor in the US. If approved, they can stay for two years and get a work permit.

The program has been “hugely successful in curbing migration to the Southwestern frontier,” lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing the federal government in the lawsuit, wrote in court documents.

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A trial of the states’ lawsuit is being presided over by U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Victoria, Texas. Tipton, a Donald Trump appointee, has previously spoken out against the Biden administration over who should prioritize deportation.

The trial was to be broadcast live from Victoria to a federal courtroom in Houston for two days. Tipton was expected to make a ruling at a later date.

In court documents, Texas and the other states have called the Biden administration’s program an “extreme example” of failing to enforce immigration laws that require it to “grant parole only on a case-by-case basis for significant public interest or pressing humanitarian reasons.” ”

While the Republican states’ lawsuit objects to the use of humanitarian parole for migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, no concerns have been raised about its use to grant entry to tens of thousands of Ukrainians when Russia invaded.

Texas has also argued that the parole program causes financial harm because it must provide services to the paroled migrants, including detention, education, social services and driver’s license programs.

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Immigrant rights groups joined the legal process on behalf of seven people who sponsor migrants. One of the sponsors was expected to testify at the trial.

Immigrant rights groups have defended the humanitarian parole program, saying it is a safe route to the US for desperate migrants who would otherwise pay smugglers and bog border agents. The program also helps mitigate the humanitarian crisis along the US-Mexico border, the groups said.

By the end of July, more than 72,000 Haitians, 63,000 Venezuelans, 41,000 Cubans and 34,000 Nicaraguans had been vetted and authorized to come to the US through the parole program.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on the X platform: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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