Judge upholds Biden's migrant parole policy but orders resumption of border wall

A federal judge in Texas handed the Biden administration a win on immigration by upholding its parole policy enabling some immigrants to fly into the United States, but also ruled against it on border wall construction funding. File Photo by Adam Davis/EPA-EFE
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March 9 (UPI) -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit to end the Biden administration's parole policy enabling some immigrants to fly into the United States but also ordered the resumption of border wall construction.

In separate rulings issued Friday in Victoria, Texas, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton ruled Texas and other states have no legal standing to challenge the President Joe Biden's parole policy that enables migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to apply for entry into the United States and temporarily reside here upon approval.

The policy enables up to 30,000 migrants from the four nations to arrive monthly and has enabled more than 386,000 people from those nations to arrive in the United States over the past year.

In his ruling, Tipton said there is no evidence that the parole policy harms Texas or any other states, so they have no standing to challenge it in federal court, CNN and the Miami Herald reported.

The ruling was hailed by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

"These processes -- a safe and orderly way to reach the United States -- have resulted in a significant reduction in the number of these individuals encountered at our southern border," he said in a statement Friday.

"Those who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States will be subject to prompt removal, a minimum five-year bar on admission and potential criminal prosecution for unlawful re-entry," Mayorkas said.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related case filed by Texas, Missouri and other co-plaintiffs, Tipton ruled the Biden administration ignored the intent of Congress allocating $1.4 billion in border wall construction by diverting the funds for other purposes.

Tipton approved the states' request to stop DHS officials from misappropriating the funds and instead use them for their intended purpose of building a border wall at the southern border.

Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush and the states of Texas and Missouri in separate federal court filings challenged the legality of the Biden administration's policy while also seeking an injunction to stop the parole policy.

The lawsuits say Congress in 2020 and 2021 approved $1.4 billion in funding to complete a border wall between the United States and Mexico, but Biden "had a different view on how these funds should be spent" and "via proclamation, paused obligation of these funds they day he was inaugurated," the states said in the consolidated federal lawsuit.

Instead, Biden ordered the Department of Homeland Security to assess the matter, which resulted in two plans that didn't involve building the border wall. Instead, the DHS only would ensure any existing structure is stable.

Instead of continuing work to build a barrier system at the southern border, the Biden administration allocated the funds for "environmental remediation, flood control and cleanup projects" and "smarter border security measures" that are inconsistent with the intended purpose of the $1.4 billion allocation and "constitute misappropriation of the funds," the states argued.

Tipton agreed with the states and granted their motion to allocate the federal funding for building a border wall.

Tipton said Texas demonstrated that building additional physical barriers "would result in fewer illegal aliens entering the country," which DHS data affirms. DHS data show an 87% decline in illegal crossings in the Yuma sector during the 2020 fiscal year compared to a year prior, and a 79% decrease in apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

The DHS also reported the "El Paso sector has experienced a significant reduction in drug and smuggling activities in areas where the new border wall system was built," plus reductions of 61% and 81%, respectively,for illegal crossings at two key zones within the El Paso sector, Tipton said.

"These DHS findings and reports show that walls, and the addition of walls, lower the volume of illegal immigration," Tipton wrote in his decision. "The court finds that in the absence of these walls some illegal immigration into Texas will occur that otherwise would not."

Tipton said the illegal immigration into Texas harms the state by incurring costs for administering driver's licenses, education and healthcare for a "rising number of illegal aliens."

"These injuries are concrete, imminent and traceable" to the conduct of DHS and Texas likely would suffer injuries from which there is no indication that the state "ever would be able to recover," Tipton said.

The judge delayed by one week his order's effect in anticipation of the Biden administration appealing the decision.