Biden says he’s restricting asylum rights to “gain control of the border”


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled plans to impose significant restrictions on asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border, effective immediately, because the White House seeks to neutralize immigration as a political liability ahead of the November election.

The White House outlined the long-awaited presidential proclamation signed by Biden that will ban migrants from being granted asylum if U.S. authorities imagine the southern border is overwhelmed. The Democratic president has been considering unilateral motion for months, particularly after the failure of a bipartisan border security deal in Congress, which most Republican lawmakers rejected on the behest of former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“The border is not a political issue that can be used as a weapon,” Biden said, adding that he would have liked to see deeper and more lasting motion through laws, but “Republicans left me no choice.”

Instead, he said he would overcome Republican obstructionism and “do what I can on my own to address the problem at the border,” but in addition stressed, “I believe immigration has always been the lifeblood of America.”

“This action will help regain control of our border and restore order in the process,” the president said.

The order will take effect when the variety of border encounters between ports of entry reaches 2,500 per day, senior administration officials said. That means Biden's order should take effect immediately, since that number is now higher than the every day average.

The restrictions would remain in place until two weeks after the variety of encounters between ports of entry drops to a seven-day average of 1,500 or fewer per day, figures first reported Monday by The Associated Press.

Once this order takes effect, migrants who arrive on the border but express no fear of returning to their home country will probably be expelled from the United States inside days and even hours. These migrants face penalties, including a five-year ban on entering the United States and possible criminal prosecution.

In the meantime, anyone who expresses that fear or an intention to hunt asylum will probably be screened by a U.S. asylum officer, but under more stringent standards than currently apply. If the person passes the screening, she or he could also be eligible for more limited types of humanitarian protection, including the U.N. Convention against Torture.

The order got here at a time when the variety of migrants encountered on the border has been steadily declining since December. However, senior administration officials justified the order by saying the numbers were still too high and will rise further in higher weather, when the variety of encounters traditionally increases.

However, many questions and complications remain regarding the implementation of Biden's latest directive.

For example, the Biden administration already has an agreement with Mexico by which Mexico agrees to simply accept as much as 30,000 residents monthly from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela once they’re denied entry from the U.S., and senior administration officials say that may proceed under this order. But it’s unclear what’s going to occur to nationals of other countries who’re denied entry under Biden's order.

Four senior administration officials, who spoke to reporters on the hassle on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the administration's goal of quickly deporting migrants is hampered by insufficient funding from Congress. The administration also faces certain legal constraints on detaining migrant families, although the administration said it will proceed to honor those commitments.

Biden is invoking Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows the president to limit the entry of certain migrants if doing so is deemed “detrimental” to the national interest. Senior administration officials have expressed confidence that they will implement Biden's order, despite threats from outstanding legal groups to sue the administration over the directive.

“We intend to sue,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully brought similar lawsuits under Trump. “An asylum ban is illegal, just as it was when Trump tried it unsuccessfully.”

The senior administration officials stressed that Biden's proposal differs significantly from Trump's, which relied on the identical provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act as Biden, including his 2017 directive barring residents of Muslim-majority countries from entering the country and his 2018 efforts to limit asylum.

Biden's order names several groups of migrants who can be exempt on humanitarian grounds, including victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other people with serious medical emergencies.

On Tuesday, Trump said on his social media account that Biden had “completely abandoned our southern border” and that the order was “just for show” ahead of the June 27 presidential debate.

The policy would also exempt migrants who arrive in what senior officials call an orderly manner. That includes individuals who schedule appointments with border agents at ports of entry through U.S. Customs and Border Protection's CBP One app. About 1,450 appointments are scheduled every day through the app, which was launched last 12 months.

Immigration advocates fear that Biden's plan would only add to the backlog of migrants waiting for an appointment through the app, which has already lasted for months, especially if immigration authorities shouldn’t have additional funding at the identical time.

In addition, it could possibly be difficult for border officials to implement the plan to quickly deport the migrants because many officials are already busy helping with shelters and other humanitarian tasks, said Jennie Murray, chair of the National Immigration Forum.

“Customs and Border Protection cannot currently keep up with the arrests because they do not have enough staff. This would lead to even more disorder,” she said.

The average variety of arrests for illegal border crossings from Mexico was last below 2,500 per day in January 2021, the month Biden took office. The last time the variety of border crossings fell below 1,500 per day was in July 2020, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans in Congress dismissed Biden's order as little greater than a “political ploy” designed to exhibit a tightening of immigration policies before the election.

“He's been trying all this time to convince all of us that he couldn't possibly fix the mess,” Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said at a news conference. “Remember, he set it up.”

Biden said in January he had done “everything he can do” to regulate the border under his executive authority, but White House officials have hinted for months that the president would consider unilateral motion. Democrats indicate that Biden has waited for months within the hope of laws somewhat than acting on his own, which his successor can easily reverse.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said a law would have been simpler, but “Republicans' unwillingness to compromise forced the president to act.”

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