Biden’s Executive Order Proves He Could Have Done Something All Along 

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In response to political pressure over the migrant influx at the U.S. southern border, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday that temporarily halts asylum requests once the daily average of encounters exceeds 2,500 between official ports of entry.  

This threshold has already been met, so the shutdown takes effect immediately. According to Biden’s executive order, once an asylum shutdown is enforced, the border remains closed until it’s confirmed that the average crossings have been consistently below 1,500 for seven consecutive days, with a two-week waiting period after that. The order follows the Immigration and Nationality Act, which permits the suspension of entries for immigrants if they’re considered “detrimental” to the national interest. 

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the order suspends entry for noncitizens crossing unlawfully. Senior officials stated that individuals crossing unlawfully will generally be ineligible for asylum unless they meet exceptionally compelling circumstances. The Biden administration said that migrants who do not demonstrate a “credible fear” when applying for asylum will be subject to immediate removal, and they expect that this process will take place within days, if not hours.  

Biden’s order allows certain groups like unaccompanied children, victims of human trafficking, and those with severe medical emergencies or safety threats to seek asylum. Additionally, asylum-seekers who make appointments through the CBP One app at entry ports can still be processed. 

The U.S. asylum system is experiencing a significant backlog, with over 1.1 million pending cases in immigration courts. According to the nonprofit research group Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, asylum seekers typically wait about four years for a hearing. 

The Biden Administration claimed that the executive order would reduce the backlog and improve system efficiency, but the backlash from immigration advocates remains fierce. Lindsay Toczylowski, the executive director of the California-based Immigrant Defenders Law Center, expressed that the current situation feels like a betrayal of President Biden’s campaign promises from four years ago. She noted that they were promised a restoration of humanity at the border, but what is happening now seems like “history repeating itself.” 

Border crossings have decreased since December, but the good news has nothing to do with Biden. Authorities in Mexico have ramped up enforcement efforts, a trend likely to continue with the election of President Claudia Sheinbaum, who shares the same political party as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and will likely continue her predecessor’s cooperation with the U.S. on border issues. 

The Biden Administration criticized Republicans for obstructing a congressional border control bill, which also included funding for Israel and Ukraine. This bill claimed to provide additional personnel for Customs and Border Protection and fentanyl detection machines at the border. It also sought to streamline the removal process for migrants deemed a public safety threat. It fell far short of the aggressive action needed to stop the flood of illegal immigration, and Republicans voted against it. 

Former President Trump denounced the bill as a “gift to the radical left Democrats,” and it failed to pass the Senate. At the time, House Speaker Mike Johnson said the bill didn’t go far enough to curb the problem. Trump is less than impressed by Biden’s executive order, either, with his campaign saying that exceptions for unaccompanied minors will “give a green light to child and sex traffickers.” 

Biden has consistently claimed he cannot address the border crisis without congressional approval. His declaration was a way to stay neutral in an America heavily divided on the issue. By refusing to act, he could remain blameless no matter what Congress decided. 

However, Biden’s hand was forced when polling consistently found that Trump holds the lead among voters on the issue. According to a late-March CNBC poll, former President Donald Trump is ahead by 30 points among registered voters in handling immigration and border security, including a 23-point lead among Latino voters. 

House GOP leadership issued a joint statement, calling President Biden’s Executive Order a desperate political maneuver to bolster his declining poll numbers. They described it as a transparent election-year tactic.  

Following the collapse of the Senate’s border deal in February, Biden had claimed to have exhausted his executive powers in border security and opted to await legislative action on immigration surges rather than acting independently. However, four months later and five months out from the 2024 election, he “suddenly” realized that he could act, just as Trump had done during his term, and for the sake of his campaign, he probably should. 

Biden’s willingness to act now can only mean that the number of illegal immigrants required to shift the census to favor Democrats has been met. It’s time to pretend he has been on the side of the American people all along.