Biden’s Bold Move: Executive Order to Halt Asylum Requests at US-Mexico Border – What Happens Next?

Washington, D.C. – President Joe Biden is expected to announce an executive order that would suspend asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border once daily encounters reach 2,500, with a reopening threshold set at 1,500, according to reliable sources familiar with the discussions. This move represents a significant effort by the Democratic president to manage the influx of migrants at the border, with plans to reveal the details at an event in Washington on Tuesday, where border mayors have been invited to attend.

The proposed executive order’s impact is imminent, as daily encounter figures currently exceed the 2,500 mark. While trade activities are anticipated to continue, reaching the 1,500 threshold necessary for the border to reopen for asylum seekers may prove challenging. The last time daily averages dropped to 1,500 encounters was in July 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key White House officials, including Chief of Staff Jeff Zients and Legislative Affairs Director Shuwanza Goff, have been briefing lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the forthcoming executive order. There are lingering questions surrounding the logistics and implementation of the order, particularly regarding the level of cooperation needed from Mexican authorities to enforce the directive.

President Biden has been deliberating over potential actions to address asylum issues at the border after bipartisan legislation efforts stalled, leaving Republicans to reject the deal at the urging of former President Donald Trump. Despite a decrease in illegal border crossings in recent months, Biden is exploring executive measures to preempt any potential surge in border encounters later this year, especially close to the November elections.

The executive order draws inspiration from bipartisan Senate proposals, aiming to restrict asylum requests once encounter thresholds are reached. The administration is poised to leverage executive powers in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, granting broad authority to the president to block entry for certain immigrants deemed detrimental to national interests—an approach previously utilized by Trump.

Anticipating legal challenges, advocacy groups are gearing up to contest the executive order, expressing concerns about its potential impact on asylum access. Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Alex Padilla of California, have also voiced reservations, advocating for comprehensive strategies that address root causes of migration from Latin America. Biden’s action is seen as a proactive measure to manage border challenges amid ongoing debates and legislative setbacks.