President Biden Plans Executive Action to Address Southern Border Crisis

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President Joe Biden is set to enact significant executive measures to address the ongoing crisis at the southern border, a decision that runs contrary to his recent statements about potentially lacking the unilateral authority to act.

The White House is poised to unveil an executive order on Tuesday that will effectively close the U.S.-Mexico border to illegal immigration. Since the beginning of Biden’s administration, almost 10 million non-U.S. citizens have been encountered while attempting to enter the United States.

Though the specifics of the order have not been publicly revealed, it is anticipated to mirror a Senate proposal that House Republicans opposed earlier this year. This proposal suggested specific thresholds of immigrant crossings that would trigger a border shutdown.

Republicans have criticized Biden for the unprecedented levels of illegal immigration, attributing it to the rollback of Trump-era policies. They argue that Biden can resolve the border crisis without Congress, while the Biden administration has maintained that legislative action is essential.

In April, Biden expressed uncertainty about his legal authority to shut down the border, urging Congress to act.

Biden’s proposed order would halt asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border once the average number of daily encounters reaches 2,500 at ports of entry, which means it could take effect immediately. The border could reopen if the weekly daily average drops to 1,500, according to the Associated Press.

The order would impact adult immigrants seeking asylum after crossing the border. The expected changes align with earlier Senate suggestions that failed to garner Republican support. That proposal suggested barring asylum if over 8,500 people were arrested in one day or if the weekly average exceeded 5,000.

Children are anticipated to be exempt from these restrictions, potentially leading Mexican smuggling organizations to increase child trafficking, knowing that children will not be turned away.

This executive action may invite lawsuits from groups claiming it oversteps executive authority, as Congress holds the power to set immigration levels.

Biden’s decision contradicts previous statements by him and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Both have consistently stated that “only Congress can fix our broken immigration system,” a sentiment echoed by Mayorkas on May 23.

Biden visited Brownsville, Texas, in February to inspect the border, marking the second time in his long career as an elected official that he has done so.

Prior to the February visit, the White House underscored the need for congressional action to address the border, distancing itself from the idea of executive measures.

With the Senate’s recent failure to pass a border security measure, the White House is now moving independently to tackle what has become the most pressing issue for U.S. voters: immigration.

At no point in history has any other administration faced such high numbers of immigrants at the border, even across two terms.

Republicans have repeatedly accused the Biden administration in congressional hearings of not adequately addressing the unprecedented surge of immigrants over the past 40 months.

On Monday, the White House responded by accusing Republicans of opposing both the Senate plan and executive action for political reasons.

“Congressional Republicans do not care about securing the border or fixing America’s broken immigration system. If they did, they would have voted for the toughest border enforcement in history. Instead, they put partisan politics ahead of our country’s national security,” said a White House spokesperson.

Encounters, which include non-U.S. citizens entering illegally or deemed inadmissible at ports of entry, have remained between 192,000 and 371,000 per month since March 2021, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

In the decade preceding the Biden administration, monthly encounters ranged from 40,000 to 80,000.

Haisten Willis contributed to this report.

Anna Giaritelli
Anna Giaritelli
Anna Giaritelli focuses on homeland security, immigration, and border issues. Anna has traveled to the border on more than 40 occasions since 2018 and has covered human smuggling, the evolution of the war on drugs, domestic terrorism, and migration trends. She is currently based in Austin, Texas.

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