Eight states sue Biden administration over reinstated Obama-era immigration policy

The lawsuit is the ninth border/immigration-related lawsuit, and 20th filed overall, against the Biden administration by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Updated: January 28, 2022 - 11:49pm

Eight states are suing the Biden administration claiming it is abusing an Obama-era immigration program that allows minors who entered the U.S. illegally to seek to bring in family members from their home countries.

The lawsuit alleges President Joe Biden challenging the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program was filed by the state of Texas and includes as plaintiffs the states of Arkansas, Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma.

The lawsuit is the ninth border/immigration-related lawsuit, and 20th lawsuit filed overall, against the Biden administration by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The CAM program provides certain minors who entered the U.S. illegally the ability to secure “protected status” instead of being deported. The status then enables them to petition the government to bring in extended family members from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala.

“There is no authority in federal law for this sort of program,” Paxton said, noting that Congress never authorized CAM. It was created under the Obama administration in late 2014 and terminated by the Trump administration in 2017.

The Biden administration reinstating it, the lawsuit argues, “usurps the power of Congress to dictate a national scheme of immigration laws and is contrary to the Immigration Naturalization Act.”

The administration “has sown nothing but disaster for our country through its illegal, unconstitutional immigration policies,” Paxton added. “Biden’s latest round of flagrant law-breaking includes his CAM, which has contributed significantly to many states being forced to take in even more aliens. My fellow attorneys general and I are suing to stop it.”

Paxton and several of the attorneys general who sued made the announcement Friday in Edinburgh, Texas, at the close of a two-day border summit at the Texas-Mexico border.

“After seeing the chaos in person, it is even more clear to me now that Biden and Mayorkas are building their own illegal organization to transport illegal immigrants into and around our country – thumbing their noses at federal laws,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who participated in the summit, said. “I will not only work aggressively to stop these illegal acts, but I will continue to inform Floridians about what their federal government is actually doing, and the dangers associated with those decisions.”

Indiana Attorney General Rokita, who also attended the summit, said taxpayers are paying the cost for Biden's lax border policies.

“Every elected official has a constitutional duty to protect our liberties, and that is why I am taking action. The flood of illegal immigrants entering the U.S. is a problem that harms all of us,” Rokita said. “The ones paying the price for this lawlessness are Hoosier taxpayers, who must bear increased costs for health care, education and other services used by illegal immigrants.”

Rokita also pointed out that CAM beneficiaries “are not only permitted to enter and reside within the United States for a practically indefinite period, but their travel arrangements from their home countries are provided through taxpayer funds.”

While “we welcome migrants to the United States who are grateful to be here and want to restart their lives” here, Rokita said, “The first way they can show that is by following our laws. Those who do not should not be allowed to stay.”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who also participated in the summit, said, “President Trump was right to cancel this program, and the Biden administration exceeded its statutory authority in reimplementing it. My office has been a national leader in taking concrete action to secure the border. I’ve taken the Biden administration to court and won following their cancellation of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, and I intend to win in court again.”

The lawsuit states, “Illegal aliens do not have the right under federal law to petition the federal government for their relatives abroad to join them in residing in the United States. There are no lawful paths for aliens who lack status to come join other aliens who lack status in the United States."

But the administration created a program for “certain illegal aliens who are from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras (the region known as the Northern Triangle) and who reside in the United States, so long as they meet certain arbitrary qualifications” the administration created. “In short, if an illegal alien from one of those three countries has so much as a pending application for asylum, they can petition the U.S. government to bring their minor children into the U.S. – despite no explicit authority from Congress to do so. And not just the illegal alien’s minor children, but also the in-country parent of a qualifying child, a legal guardian, or a child’s primary caregiver.”

Although the government screens people through the Refugee Admission Program, most who apply rarely meet the standard for a refugee. The lawsuit alleges, “The crux of the CAM program is its use of the parole authority – an authority only available on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit – to allow the very same individuals who did not qualify as refugees to come into the United States. A result that is entirely inconsistent with the law.”

In addition to the CAM program, the administration over the past year first attempted to freeze deportations, then halted construction of the border wall, implemented a policy to stop arresting and deporting a broad category of illegal immigrants, and terminated the Remain-in-Mexico program, which was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The crisis at the border continues to grow every day, and as human traffickers and drug cartels take advantage of the Biden Administration’s weak border policies, every state is now a border state – this porous border affects all of us,” Schmitt added.