VICTORIA, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas on Friday upheld a key piece of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy that allows a limited number of migrants from four countries to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, dismissing a challenge from Republican-led states that said the program created an economic burden on them.

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U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton in Victoria, Texas, ruled in favor of the humanitarian parole program that allows up to 30,000 asylum-seekers into the U.S. each month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela combined. Eliminating the program would undercut a broader policy that seeks to encourage migrants to use the Biden administration’s preferred pathways into the U.S. or face stiff consequences.

Texas and 20 other states that sued argued the program is forcing them to spend millions on health care, education, and public safety for the migrants. An attorney working with the Texas attorney general’s office in the legal challenge said that the program “created a shadow immigration system.”

Advocates for the federal government countered that migrants admitted through the policy helped with a U.S. farm labor shortage.

An appeal appeared likely.

Tipton is an appointee of former President Donald Trump who ruled against the Biden administration in 2022 on an order that determined who to prioritize for deportation.