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Biden halts processing of asylum requests at Mexico border

The order allows immigration officers to deport people from the United States.

A Border Patrol vehicle near walls separating Tijuana, Mexico, from the United States Associated Press/Photo by Gregory Bull

Biden halts processing of asylum requests at Mexico border

President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered the shutdown of processing for asylum-seekers from Mexico when Border Patrol encounters high numbers of crossings. Republicans hailed the decision as evidence of the administration’s lagging response to border security concerns and pressing immigration issues. Meanwhile, the White House blamed Congress for not securing the border and addressing a broken immigration system. The actions ordered by Biden will allow immigration officers to remove people who have no lawful basis to remain in the United States and will reduce the burden on Border Patrol agents, according to the White House’s statement.

What are the details of the order? The executive order will shut down asylum processes when more than 2,500 immigrants per day attempt to enter the country between ports of entry. Asylum processing would resume after such attempts cooled to an average of 1,500 crossings a day. The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the president to restrict foreigners from entering the country if it is “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

How many immigrants are flowing into the United States? At its height in December 2023, border crossings reached nearly 10,000 per day, according to the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization. That number has come down since then. In April, an average of 5,990 immigrants were encountered at the southern border as reported by the office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That volume is still well above the threshold set by Biden. Under the new order, asylum services will end at midnight on Tuesday.

How have congressional Republicans responded? “Whatever little short measure that he’s going to do here isn’t going to solve the problem.” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said at a news conference on Tuesday morning. “If he was concerned about the border he would have done this a long time ago.” Johnson and other Republicans have called on the president to pass asylum reform proposed by Republicans.

What other action on the border has Congress worked on? The announcement comes after months of calls from Republican lawmakers for President Biden to use his executive power to close the border. But it also comes as packages of border-security bills have stalled in either the Republican-led House of Representatives or the Democratic-led Senate.

In February, the House rejected a bipartisan proposal spearheaded by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. The Senate package would have changed laws for asylum-seekers, installed new compliance standards for immigrants, and sped up the adjudication for immigration claims. House Republicans declared the package dead on arrival, contending that the measures did little to address immigration proportionally to the scope of the issue.

Instead, Republicans in the House called on the Biden administration to pass an immigration bill backed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. The House passed that package back in May 2023. Speaker Johnson has attempted to include components of that bill in many subsequent spending, defense, and foreign aid measures. So far, he has been unable to pass them through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Dig deeper: Read my report on the security package that wasn’t passed and why Republicans rejected bipartisan measures to address the border.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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