A Florida federal judge has ruled that the Biden administration’s mass release of migrants into the US interior via humanitarian parole is unlawful. Judge T. Kent Wetherell’s decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the state of Florida, which argued that the administration’s mass release of tens of thousands of migrants via humanitarian parole into Alternatives to Detention (“Parole + ATD”) was in violation of statutory mandates that require migrants to be detained. Wetherell agreed with Florida’s argument, and accused the administration of turning the border into a “meaningless line in the sand.”
The Biden administration has increasingly used humanitarian parole to release migrants quickly into the interior to reduce overcrowding at the border, as it deals with historic migrant numbers. The administration had argued that there was no “non-detention policy” and that it was using prosecutorial discretion. However, Wetherell sided with Florida, stating that the administration’s policies had contributed to the degradation of the border as a means to keep illegal migrants out.
The judge also agreed with Florida’s argument that it had standing to challenge the policy as over 100,000 migrants had been released into the state, and it had borne significant costs in providing public services to them.
The ruling has been stayed for seven days to allow for an appeal, but it could have massive implications when Title 42 ends, as administration officials have previously predicted. The Biden administration is also facing a lawsuit from GOP states over its humanitarian parole program that flies in up to 30,000 migrants from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba each month.
The ruling is the latest setback for the Biden administration’s immigration policies, which have been under intense scrutiny. The administration has faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for its handling of the border crisis, with Republicans accusing it of being too lax and Democrats accusing it of being too harsh. The administration has also announced a controversial asylum rule that would make migrants ineligible for asylum if they have entered the US illegally and have also failed to claim asylum in a previous country through which they passed.