Since taking office a year ago, President Joe Biden has worked to undo changes made to enforcement of border security and immigration laws by the Trump administration, including restoring prior policies of the Obama administration that were ended under former President Donald Trump.
An example of such is the Biden administration’s relaunch of a previously terminated program aimed at providing refugee status to certain Central American children — a program that is now the subject of a lawsuit by several Republican-led states, The Daily Wire reported.
It is known as the Central American Minors program and it allows purportedly legally present nationals from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to apply for refugee and resettlement status in the U.S. for their children who are still living in their country of origin.
The program, first launched in 2014 under former President Barack Obama, had been declared illegal and was ended under the Trump administration in 2017, but has since been reopened by President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the CAMs program, and has been joined in that suit against the Biden administration by other Republican-led states like Arkansas, Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma.
“The Biden Administration has sown nothing but disaster for our country through its illegal, unconstitutional immigration policies,” Paxton said in a statement. “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. My fellow attorneys general and I are suing to stop it.”
The press release from Paxton noted that he has now filed 20 separate lawsuits against the Biden administration, nine of which are focused on border security and immigration enforcement policies.
The primary issue here is the overly broad designation by the administration of exactly who qualifies as being “legally present” in the U.S. to be eligible to apply for the CAMs program.
It includes nationals from the three named countries who have received “permanent resident status; temporary protected status; parole, deferred action; deferred enforced departure; or withholding of removal,” as well as those with only a pending application for asylum or refugee status.
Further, eligibility for the program has been extended beyond just a “qualifying child” — unmarried and under the age of 21 — to also include other children who may not be qualified, the other birth parent of a qualified child, or even a related adult caregiver of a qualified child, meaning multiple extended family members may be granted authority to enter the U.S.
Lawsuit seeks injunction
The lawsuit filed by Paxton and joined by the other states argues that the CAMs program is unlawful and unauthorized by Congress, is a gross abuse of existing authorities and discretion, and that it was reimposed without any consideration for its impact on individual states or for the normal “notice-and-comment rulemaking” procedures.
As such, the plaintiff states have asked the courts to declare the program unlawful and to issue an injunction against the Biden administration blocking it from implementing the program or otherwise abusing its discretion on parole to allow ineligible and unqualified foreign nationals to enter the U.S.