Texas asked a federal judge Wednesday to issue an injunction halting President Biden’s new program offering to admit up to 30,000 migrants a month under a new “parole” policy, saying the administration invented a new immigration procedure without permission from Congress.
The move ups the legal stakes of the case by asking a judge to step in and rule quickly on the legality of Mr. Biden’s latest immigration policy.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Mr. Biden is using the parole program to convert illegal immigrants into legal ones, rather than following the law and trying to arrest and deport them.
“Instead of rolling out the red carpet for hundreds of thousands of aliens and using taxpayer dollars to bring them into the country, Joe Biden should be focused on securing our border,” said Mr. Paxton, who is leading a coalition of states in pursuing the lawsuit.
His court filing came just days after the Biden administration released new border numbers that suggested the parole program is working, at least on the four nationalities covered by it.
The number of Haitians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Cubans jumping the southern border plummeted in January after Mr. Biden announced the program.
Those seeking to come need to get a U.S.-based sponsor, then apply and show up at a port of entry, where they are granted admission for up to two years. They are also awarded work permits allowing them to compete for jobs.
Mr. Paxton said that breaks the law where Congress laid out the immigration system, with specific caps on which immigrants can be admitted. The law does envision a parole power, but says it is to be used on a case-by-case basis in “urgent” humanitarian cases or where the public would derive a “significant” benefit.
Traditionally that has meant someone in need of lifesaving medical care or cases where someone is needed to testify in court, but no visitor’s visa is available for those purposes.
In recent years that use has been expanded to include catch-and-release of illegal immigrants at the border, and Mr. Biden has now expanded it into a proactive grant of admission for up to 30,000 migrants a month in his new program.
Stephen Miller, an architect of President Trump’s immigration policy and now president of America First Legal, said the Biden team is trying to hide the chaos at the southern border by converting illegal entries to legal ones.
“Biden’s plan to mass import unauthorized aliens from their home countries directly to the United States without any legal basis for doing so is nothing more than a brazen attempt to accelerate stratospheric migration levels while, at the same time, concealing the sheer volume of cross border flows by transporting these illicit aliens directly from their home countries to the American interior,” said Mr. Miller, whose group is providing legal assistance to Texas.
In a regulatory filing announcing the parole policy, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended it as a lawful exercise of presidential power.
He said it meets the significant public benefit test precisely because it does convert some of those coming illegally into legal entrants. That allows authorities to run at least some checks on people before they show up.
He also said parole eases the lives of the migrants, who won’t have to pay smugglers and make a treacherous journey.
Mr. Paxton said in his filing Wednesday that at the very least, such a massive new policy should have gone through the full regulatory process, including the chance for the public to comment.
Skipping that step violates the Administrative Procedure Act, he argued to the judge.
The judge assigned to the case, U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton, ruled against the Biden administration in a case last year involving Mr. Mayorkas’s attempt to limit the types of illegal immigrants that could be targeted for arrest and deportation.