Biden Prepares Executive Order to End Asylum Claims at US-Mexico Border

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is telling lawmakers that President Joe Biden is preparing to sign an executive order. Asylum claims At the U.S.-Mexico border, the average number of daily encounters between ports of entry has reached 2,500, and that number will drop to 1,500 once the border reopens, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The impact of the 2,500 figure means that the executive order could come into effect immediately, as the daily figures now exceed that.

The Democratic president is expected to unveil measures at the White House on Tuesday — his most aggressive unilateral move yet — to limit numbers at the border. Border Mayors have been invited.

Five people familiar with Monday’s discussions confirmed the 2,500 figure, while two confirmed the 1,500 figure. Figures are daily averages over a one-week period. All the people insisted on anonymity to discuss an executive order that has not yet been made public.

While other border operations, such as trade, are expected to continue, the 1,500 threshold at which the border is reopened to asylum seekers may be difficult to reach. At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, in July 2020, the daily average dropped to 1,500 appointments.

Senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Jeff Giants and Legislative Affairs Director Shwanza Goff, have been briefing lawmakers on Capitol Hill on details of the planned order ahead of Tuesday’s formal release. But there are many questions about how the executive order will work, particularly how much cooperation the U.S. will need from Mexican officials to enforce the executive order.

The president has been deliberating for months on how to proceed Bilateral legislation to restrict asylum at the border The collapse came as Republicans largely backed away from the deal at the urging of former president and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Although the number of illegal crossings along the southern border has declined for months due to Mexico’s aggressive efforts, Biden has continued to consider executive action.

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Biden administration officials waited until after Mexico’s presidential election on Sunday to take action on the U.S. president’s border. Mexico Claudia Sheinbaum was selected, the nation’s first female president, and Biden said in a statement Monday that they are committed to “advancing the values ​​and interests of our two countries for the benefit of our people.” The two spoke by phone on Monday, though White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre declined to say whether they had discussed the pending order.

“We continue to look at all the options on the table,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One Monday evening, traveling with Biden.

The executive order would allow lawmakers, particularly congressional Republicans, to declare that Biden has pushed the limits of his own authority after killing some of the tougher border and asylum controls. Biden’s order is aimed at trying to prevent any potential spike in border crossings, closer to the November election, which could happen later this year.

Trump’s campaign said in a statement that the order would not be effective and that “if Biden really wants to close the border, he can do it with the same swipe of the pen.”

Describing illegal border crossings as an “invasion,” Trump is trying to blame Biden for recent incidents in which immigrants have been charged with violent crimes. Several studies have shown that Immigrants generally commit lower rates of violent crime than the US-born

For Biden’s executive order, the White House is adopting some principles directly from the bipartisan Senate border deal, including the idea of ​​limiting asylum claims once encounters hit a certain number. The administration wants to encourage immigrants to seek asylum at ports of entry using U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s CBP One app, which schedules about 1,450 encounters a day.

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Administration lawyers plan to strip executive powers outlined in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives the president broad authority to block the entry of certain immigrants into the United States if deemed “harmful” to the national interest. It’s the same legal justification that Trump used as president to take some of the tougher steps on immigration.

Advocacy groups are already preparing to challenge Biden’s immigration order in court.

“We need to review (the executive order) before making final litigation decisions,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has led several high-profile challenges to Trump’s border policies. “But the policy of effectively closing asylum would raise clear legal issues, just as (that) the Trump administration has sought to end asylum.”

The White House is sure to face vocal opposition from many Democratic lawmakers. California Sen. Alex Padilla, an outspoken critic of the Senate’s previous border bill, said the pending executive order “is not the solution we need, and it’s very incomplete as a strategy.”

Briefed by the White House on the proposal, Padilla favors an approach that works with countries across Latin America to address the poverty and unrest that drives migration to the United States. In recent weeks, Padilla has pressed the White House for executive action to benefit immigrants, and the message he heard was, “We’re working on it.”

Biden will issue his executive order surrounded by several border mayors invited to the White House announcement. Texas mayors John Cowan of Brownsville and Ramiro Garza of Edinburg both confirmed their invitations, and San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office also said the White House had invited the mayor, but he was unable to attend due to scheduling issues.

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Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who said he had been briefed on the plan, wished the White House had taken executive action long ago, and that Mexico’s cooperation will continue to be important as the administration implements the order.

“If you think about logistics, where else can they go?” Gullar said. “If they’re not going to let them in, where are they going to go? Do they send them back (to Mexico) or do they try to deport them as best they can? We put a lot of money into ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) so they can deport them, but the easy thing is, Of course, sending them back to Mexico is all you need to get Mexico’s help to do this job.

Jennifer Babai, an attorney with the Las Americas Immigration Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, said she would be concerned if Biden issued formal deportation orders without the opportunity to seek asylum. Prosecutors worry he could be tried under Rule 212(f).

The pandemic-era deportation authority, known as Title 42, had a “silver lining” for immigrants because they could try again without fear of legal consequences, Babai said. But a formal deportation order would expose them to criminal prosecution if they try again and it would impose restrictions on their future legal entry into the country.

“It’s more serious than (Title 42) and puts people in harm’s way,” Babai said.

Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Fatima Hussain at Air Force One contributed to this report.

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