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Biden unveils plans to enact restrictions on migrants seeking asylum at US-Mexico border

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden unveiled plans Tuesday to enact significant and immediate restrictions on migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the White House attempts to neutralize immigration as a coming political liability. the November elections.

Long-awaited presidential proclamation would bar migrants from obtaining asylum when U.S. officials believe the southern border is overwhelmed. The Democratic president had considered unilateral action for months after a bipartisan border security deal failed in Congress that most Republican lawmakers rejected at the request of former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Biden said he preferred more lasting action via legislation, but “Republicans gave me no choice.” Instead, he said he was acting on his own to “take control of the border” while insisting that “I believe immigration has always been the lifeblood of America “.

Trump “told Republicans … he didn’t want to fix the problem, he wanted to use it to attack me,” Biden said. “It was a cynical, extremely cynical political decision and a disservice to the American people who expect us not to militarize the border, but to repair it.”

Trump, for his part, used his social media account to again attack Biden over immigration, saying the Democrat had “totally given up on our southern border” and that his order was “only for the show” before the presidential election. their June 27 presidential debate.

The order will take effect when the number of border crossings between ports of entry reaches 2,500 per day, according to senior administration officials. This means Biden’s order should go into effect immediately, as daily averages are now higher. Average daily arrests for illegal crossings from Mexico were less than 2,500 in January 2021, the month Biden took office. The last time the number of border crossings fell to 1,500 per day was in July 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restrictions would be in effect for up to two weeks after the number of daily encounters is equal to or less than 1,500 per day between ports of entry, averaged over seven days. These figures were first reported by Associated Press Monday.

AP Washington correspondent Sagar Meghani reports that President Biden has announced plans to impose significant and immediate restrictions on migrants attempting to seek asylum at the southern border.

Homeland Security said increased screening measures with Mexico since high-level bilateral meetings in late December have reduced illegal crossings, but are “likely to be less effective over time,” which requires further action. “Smuggling networks are adaptable and respond to changes implemented,” the department said in a federal rule released Tuesday.

The department projects that arrests for illegal crossings could reach a daily average of up to 6,700 from July to September.

Once this order goes into effect, migrants who arrive at the border but do not express fear of returning to their home country will be immediately expelled from the United States, within days or even hours. These migrants could face sanctions that could include being barred from re-entering the United States for five years or even criminal prosecution.

During this time, anyone expressing this fear or intention to seek asylum will be examined by a U.S. asylum officer, but under higher standards than currently used. If they pass the test, they may qualify for more limited forms of humanitarian protection, including the UN Convention Against Torture.

“We are troubled to see this administration raise the bar for asylum seekers who arrive at our southern border and exercise a legal right,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Global Refuge. “Of course, no one wants to see migrants seeking a better life or economic opportunity cheating the asylum system, but we see our clients and other immigrants as people fleeing the most dire circumstances at a time of unprecedented crisis. global migration and I believe that the United States is still a beacon of hope and a refuge.

At the border on Tuesday, there were no visible signs of immediate impact.

Icelande Peralta, a Haitian mother staying at a migrant shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, with her 3-year-old son, said the United States was within its rights to impose new restrictions. She’s been trying to get an appointment through U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s online application, called CBP One, for 10 months. Peralta, 26, would not consider crossing illegally and considers CBP One his best option.

“Even if I were crazy, I wouldn’t cross the river. How could I do this with a child as young as him? I’m willing to wait,” she said.

Biden’s directive comes as the number of migrants encountered at the border has been in steady decline since December, but senior administration officials say those numbers are still too high and could increase in the event of better weather conditions, as c This is generally the case.

Still, many questions and complications remain about how Biden’s directive would be implemented.

For example, the administration has already an agreement with Mexico in which Mexico agrees to accept up to 30,000 citizens per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela once they are denied entry to the United States, and senior officials of the administration say that it will continue according to this order. But it’s unclear what happens to nationals of other countries who are denied access under Biden’s directive.

Four senior administration officials, who insisted on anonymity to describe these efforts to reporters, acknowledged that Biden’s goal of quickly expelling migrants is complicated by insufficient funding from Congress to do so. The administration also faces some legal constraints when it comes to detaining migrant families, and the administration has said it will continue to uphold those obligations.

The legal authority invoked by Biden falls under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows a president to limit the entry of certain migrants if their entry is deemed “detrimental” to the national interest. Senior officials expressed confidence they would be able to implement Biden’s order, despite threats from prominent legal groups to file lawsuits over the directive.

“We intend to sue,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully defended similar legal challenges when Trump was president. “An asylum ban is illegal, just as it was when Trump unsuccessfully attempted it.”

Senior administration officials insisted that Biden’s proposal differed significantly from that of Trump’swhich relied on the same provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that Biden used, including Trump’s 2017 directive to ban citizens from Muslim-majority countries and its efforts in 2018 to crack down on asylum.

Biden’s order outlines several groups of migrants who would be exempt on humanitarian grounds, including victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied minors and those suffering serious medical emergencies.

The directive would also exempt migrants who make appointments with border agents at ports of entry using the CBP One app. Around 1,450 appointments are made each day using the app, launched last year to allow migrants to apply for asylum.

Immigration advocates fear Biden’s plan will only add to an already months-long backlog of migrants waiting for appointments through the app, especially when immigration authorities don’t benefit not a corresponding increase in funding.

It could also be difficult for border agents to expel migrants quickly when many agents are already tasked with helping at shelters and other humanitarian tasks, said Jennie Murray, president of the National Immigration Forum.

“Customs and Border Protection cannot cope with arrests as it currently does because they do not have enough staff, which would cause more disorder,” she said.

Republicans have dismissed Biden’s order as nothing more than a “political stunt” intended to show stronger immigration enforcement ahead of the election.

“He’s been trying to convince all of us all this time that he has no way to fix the mess,” Republican Party Chairman Mike Johnson said at a news conference. “Remember, he designed it.”

On a call hosted by the Trump campaign, Stephen Miller, a senior adviser in the Trump White House who orchestrated his most polarizing immigration policies, and Tom Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Trump administration, said Biden’s order would essentially allow 2,500 people into the country each day and legalize illegal entry into the United States

“The only reason they’re doing this is because of the election,” Homan said. “They had three and a half years to act and did nothing,” he said. “They did nothing to slow the flow.”

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said legislation would have been more effective, but “Republican intransigence has forced the president’s hand.”


Associated Press writers Will Weissert in Washington, Michelle L. Price in New York and Valerie Gonzalez in Reynosa, Mexico, contributed to this report.

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