Sources say Biden is considering executive action to close the southern border

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Migrants wait near razor wire after crossing the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, on February 1.


The White House is considering executive action to limit the ability of those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally to seek asylum — a move reminiscent of a controversial Donald Trump-era move and sure to invite fierce backlash from immigration advocates and progressives.

Dealing with the US-Mexico border has vexed President Joe Biden for years, as migration across the Western Hemisphere reached record levels and thousands of migrants arrived at the border.

The measure being considered by the White House appears to be an extension of some of the tougher measures of the border reconciliation legislation vetoed by Republicans—and another sign of the White House's efforts to show they are serious about border security ahead of Election Day.

No final decision has been taken on the measure under consideration, which involves trying to control illegal border crossings between ports of entry by using a power known as 212f. A management officer often evaluates actions that management can take, but they don't always progress.

It's unclear how the declaration under discussion will be implemented and what, if any, changes will be made from those enacted during the Trump administration. Attorneys in the administration are reviewing the move, a source said.

A White House spokesman did not comment on the measures under consideration.

“The administration spent months negotiating in good faith to pass the toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades because we need Congress to make significant policy reforms and provide additional funding to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system,” White House spokesman Angelo Fernandez Hernandez said. said in a statement.

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“No executive action, no matter how drastic, can deliver the significant policy reforms and additional resources that Congress has provided and the Republican Party has rejected. We continue to urge Speaker Johnson and House Republicans to pass a bipartisan deal to secure the border,” he added.

Biden suggested earlier this month that he would close the U.S.-Mexico border if the proposed border legislation is signed into law — effectively adopting one of the toughest measures included in the package.

“If the bill becomes law today, it would be eligible to be shut down while we fix it,” Biden said.

While in office, Trump tried to close the US southern border to asylum seekers crossing the border illegally, implementing provisions in the immigration law, but was blocked by the courts.

In 2018, Trump sought to invoke Section 212f, which gives the president broad authority to implement immigration restrictions to control border crossings. But in the end, a federal appeals court ruled that the authority conflicts with asylum law and that the 212f authority does not override it.

The case — Trump v. East Bay Sanctuary Agreement — is an example of why the president is limited in his ability to close the border. It is likely to face legal challenges if the White House moves forward with it.

“President Biden has broad powers under immigration law, but they are not unlimited. Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the president to suspend the entry of non-citizens who are 'injurious to the interests of the United States,' but that does not mean he can close the border to everyone,” Stephen Yale- Lohr, an immigration law expert, previously told CNN.

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Faced with dwindling border security funds, administration officials have also discussed whether declaring a national emergency could boost funding, two of the sources said. The White House's supplemental request includes $14 billion in border security, but has stalled in Congress.

The Biden administration has taken other steps to try to tighten asylum at the US-Mexico border. Last year, the The administration issued a regulation It largely prevented migrants who traveled through other countries on their way to the US's southern border from applying for asylum in the US – marking a departure from decades-old protocol.

At the time, administration officials rejected comparisons to the Trump administration, saying it was not a definitive ban on asylum and emphasizing efforts to expand access to legal avenues into the United States.

According to federal data, immigrant apprehensions fell 50% in January compared to December. Homeland Security officials have attributed the collapse to ongoing high-level negotiations between the United States and Mexico, which have redoubled enforcement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller acknowledged that officials still face barriers at the border, saying in a statement this month: “We continue to experience serious challenges at our border that are exceeding the capacity of the immigration system.”

In January, the US Border Patrol reported 124,220 encounters along the US-Mexico border. Notably, there was a significant drop in Venezuela – nearly 11,600 compared to 57,851 in December. The US and Mexico have resumed extradition flights to Venezuela.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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