Biden’s new immigration executive order restricts asylum claims along the border. Here’s how it works.

President Biden unveiled Tuesday new executive action authorizing U.S. immigration officials to expel large numbers of migrants without processing their asylum claims, announcing what is arguably the most restrictive border policy by a Democratic president in recent history.

Mr. Biden’s aggressive move suspends the processing of asylum applications between official ports of entry along the southern border, allowing U.S. authorities to more quickly reject and expel migrants who enter the country illegally.

“If an individual chooses not to use our legal channels, if they choose to come without authorization and against the law, they will be barred from receiving asylum and remaining in the United States,” the president said in a statement. speech at the White House.

The partial ban on asylum applications will come into force on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. Regular processing of asylum applications will not be restored until 14 days after the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that the weekly average of daily illegal border crossings has fallen below 1,500. The proclamation could be reactivated if the average weekly daily crossings between points of entry exceeds 2,500.

To the dismay of migrant advocates, this sweeping policy shift attempts to upend U.S. asylum law, which allows migrants on U.S. soil to seek humanitarian protection, even if they cross the border illegally. But Biden administration officials have argued that the asylum system is buckling under the weight of more than 3 million pending applications, prompting migrants to come to the United States because it takes years to decide their cases.

What Biden’s immigration executive order does

President Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 4, 2024.


Mr. Biden made these policy changes through a presidential proclamation that temporarily suspends the entry of most migrants at the southern border. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issue regulations to implement its directive.

“I must exercise my executive powers to meet the present moment,” Mr. Biden’s order said. “This proclamation answers the call by suspending the entry of non-citizens across the southern border during this period of high border crossings.”

Migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border between legal ports of entry when the order is in effect will be denied asylum and “immediately returned” to Mexico or their country of origin, said the officials who planned the move. The administration, one official added, plans to carry out these evictions “within days, if not hours.”

Only migrants who expressly express fear of persecution or torture will be examined by U.S. asylum officers, the officials said. But they will only be considered for lesser forms of protection – not asylum – and will have to pass interviews that meet higher standards to avoid being quickly deported.

The asylum crackdown will not apply to unaccompanied children, those with serious health conditions or fleeing imminent danger, and migrants who use legal routes to enter the United States, such as the system powered by the government smartphone app known as CBP One. The administration will continue to process approximately 1,500 migrants at ports of entry under the CBP One process.

To justify this policy change, the administration cites a 1950s law known as 212(f) that empowers the president to suspend the entry of aliens when the executive branch determines that their arrival is “injurious” to the American interests. This same law became infamous under the Trump administration, which invoked it to sharply restrict legal and illegal immigration, including travel from some Muslim-majority countries.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it would challenge Mr. Biden’s actions in court. “We intend to pursue it. An asylum ban is illegal, just as it was when Trump tried it unsuccessfully,” Lee Gelernt, one of the ACLU’s top attorneys, told CBS News.

Officials have said the partial asylum ban applies to so-called extra-continental migrants, such as those from China, who have flocked to the U.S. border in record numbers in recent years. But they did not specify that Mexico had agreed to take them back, raising the specter that some migrants would still be released with court notices since some countries, including China, limit or reject American expulsions.

A major political and political change

Mr. Biden’s policy draws on one of the pillars of a bipartisan agreement on border security that failed twice in Congress Because of widespread Republican opposition, this gives administration officials an opportunity to argue that they are acting unilaterally to address one of Americans’ top concerns in the absence of congressional action.

The proclamation places the blame for the problem squarely on business owners.

“The current situation is also a direct result of Congress’s failure to update an immigration and asylum system that is simply broken – and not equipped to meet today’s needs,” he said. he declared. “While my administration has vigorously enforced the law within the constraints of the existing system, the statutory framework established by Congress is outdated. »

In his remarks, the president said he was “overcoming Republican obstruction and using the executive authorities available to me as president to do what I can on my own to address the border.”

“Frankly, I would have preferred to solve this problem through bipartisan legislation, because that’s the only way to get the type of system we have now, which is broken and fixed,” he said. added.

Although sweeping in nature, this announcement does not completely “shut down” the southern border, as asylum processing and legal trade and travel will continue unimpeded at official ports of entry.

In many ways, Mr. Biden’s sweeping border shift stems from the intense political pressure he has faced from Republicans and some Democrats on immigration, one of his worst polling issues.

But it’s also a response to the reality on the ground along the U.S.-Mexico border, where U.S. authorities have reported record levels of migrant apprehensions, including more than 2 million in each of the last two years. This year, migrant arrests are down more than 50% Historic highs recorded late last year, driven in part by a months-long campaign by Mexico to prevent migrants from reaching the U.S. border.

Andrea Flores, a former Biden administration official, denounced the president’s decision, saying it could set a dangerous precedent.

“If the president now claims he can eliminate asylum whenever he wants – even after border numbers have fallen by more than 50% – this precedent gives future presidents a pretext to suspend any immigration pathway to the United States,” Flores said.

The Republican Party also largely rejected the move, calling it an electoral maneuver that would do little to change the realities on the ground.

“President Biden’s executive order is nothing more than a desperate political stunt to try to stabilize his plummeting poll numbers,” House Republican leaders said in a statement.

Sara Cook contributed reporting.

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