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Texas, 7 other states, sue Biden administration over immigration program

Eight conservative states have filed suit in federal court to stop the Biden administration from using a 2014 program to unite Central American migrants with their children.

AMARILLO, Texas (CN) — The state of Texas, along with seven other states, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Friday, seeking to stop the administration's use of the Central American Minor Program.

The states involved in filing the lawsuit include Texas, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma. They argue in their 34-page complaint that the Biden administration is unlawfully implementing an immigration program that unites state-side parents with children still in Central America.

First started in 2014 under the Obama administration, the Central American Minor program allows migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to petition the government to have their children resettled in the U.S. with them.

Parents applying to the program must have temporary protective status, a pending asylum application or be permanent residents to qualify. Eligible children must be under the age of 21, unmarried and be physically located in one of the three eligible nations. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the program unconstitutional in his announcement of filing the complaint.

“Biden’s latest round of flagrant law-breaking includes his Central American Minors Program, which has contributed significantly to many states being forced to take in even more aliens,” said Paxton.

Former President Donald Trump ended the program by executive order five days after assuming office in 2017. However, in March of last year, President Joe Biden restarted the program.

The State Department described the program as “an important step toward expanding lawful pathways for humanitarian protection and opportunity in the United States,” in a press release announcing the program’s revival. 

Last June, the State Department and Department of Homeland Security announced they will be expanding the eligibility requirements of the program. In addition to biological parents, legal guardians were made eligible to have their children resettled with them in the U.S.

The complaint charges the administration of “[usurping] the power of Congress to dictate a national scheme of immigration laws,” through its changes to the program. 

The plaintiff states allege that because of the program, the number of undocumented immigrants has grown in their states, putting a strain on the essential services they provide. In their complaint, the states noted that they have no way of accurately determining how many undocumented individuals reside within their borders.

Friday’s lawsuit marks 20 times the Lone Star State has filed suit against the Biden administration. Over the course of 2021, the state sued Biden over border-related issues including, canceling border wall construction, limiting deportations and suspending the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy. The latter lawsuit led to the Fifth Circuit ruling that the administration must continue the policy which forces asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their application is processed.

The National Immigration Forum, an immigration advocacy group, reports that the program received 10,500 applications from 2014 to 2017. The U.S. admitted over 3,000 individuals during that period. 

Nether the State Department nor the Department of Homeland Security have responded to the lawsuit.

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