Biden’s New Border Clampdown Faces Legal, Funding Challenges

Biden’s New Border Clampdown Faces Legal, Funding Challenges

Sipa USA

Saying that Republicans “have left me no choice,” President Joe Biden issued an executive order today that would bar most migrants entering between ports of entry from seeking asylum when illegal border crossings reach a seven-day average of 2,500 — a threshold below current levels, meaning that the president’s directive should take effect immediately.

The move has generated significant controversy and criticism. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly vowed to challenge the order in court. “It was illegal when [former President Donald] Trump did it, and it is no less illegal now,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.

Many on the left have openly assailed the president’s action, saying it fails to truly address the problems with the immigration system or create a pathway to lawful status for undocumented immigrants. Republicans, meanwhile, questioned the timing of Biden’s action, coming as it does just five months before the November election. They dismissed it as a “political stunt” and said it was too little, too late.

A funding question: Biden reportedly had contemplated taking executive action for months. Migrant encounters at the southern border have reportedly been falling since December, but administration officials told the Associated Press that the numbers were still too high and could surge higher with better weather. The announcement also comes after Mexico’s presidential election.

Biden said Tuesday that he went ahead now because Congress had refused to act, and he criticized former President Donald Trump and Republicans for blocking a bipartisan deal reached earlier this year that included many GOP priorities. Biden called that plan the strongest border security agreement in decades. “Frankly, I would have preferred to address this issue through bipartisan legislation,” he said, “because that’s the only way to actually get the kind of system we have now, that’s broken, fixed — to hire more border patrol agents, more asylum officers, more judges. But Republicans have left me no choice.”

The bipartisan deal that most Republicans rejected included more than $20 billion for immigration enforcement, including funds to add more than 1,500 Customs and Border Protection personnel and 4,300 asylum officers. “To truly secure the border, we have to change our laws and Congress needs to provide the necessary funding,” Biden said.

The lack of new funding leaves many questions about how the president’s new directive will work and doubts about whether the administration will be able to meet its goal of deporting migrants quickly. The Washington Post’s Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti warned: “Without additional funding, the administration’s ability to close the border to illegal crossings may face many of the same limitations that have hampered previous efforts to deter migration by curbing asylum access. U.S. border authorities lack detention space, deportation capacity and sufficient number of asylum officers to uphold the basic U.S. legal obligations to prevent someone from being sent home to face torture, death or other grievous harm.”