Humanitarian parole program continues for now after trial in Texas

Published: Tuesday, August 29, 2023 - 4:52pm

A group of GOP states are suing to stop a Biden administration program that allows Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans to apply to come to the U.S. with a sponsor. The case went to trial this month in Victoria, Texas. 

U.S. District court Judge Drew Tipton has not yet made a ruling. He declined to put the program on hold temporarily because some US states say they’re benefitting from it.

The program uses humanitarian parole — an authority that allows foreign nationals to come to the US temporarily on a case-by-case, emergency basis. 

Up to 30,000 Haitians, Nicaraguans, Cubans and Venezuelans to come to the U.S. each month with a U.S. sponsor who can support them financially. They must apply from outside the U.S. and away from the border, along with having the money to fly here. If their applications are accepted, they're given the parole status for two years and can also apply for a work permit.

Same parole program used for Ukrainians 

Monika Langarica, senior staff attorney with the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law, is part of the legal team representing a group of U.S.-based sponsors hoping to take part in the program. She told reporters this week that humanitarian parole has been used for decades.

"Including most recently, through the Uniting for Ukraine program, which, notably, Texas has not challenged. If the court were to rule in Texas’ favor, it would be the first time a parole program like this has been struck down in the United States," she said.

The trial took place over two days at the end of last week. Texas and other GOP states argued the program is an executive branch overreach that could harm their states financially. Langarica and other attorneys argued the program would benefit both individuals taking part in it, as well as labor shortages in the U.S.

Lawyers representing the Department of Justice argued the program also helped alleviate pressure from the southern border, where migrants and asylum seekers might otherwise travel to without the program.

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