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President Biden announces new immigration executive actions limiting asylum for migrants

Update: Several organizations are now reacting to President Biden's announcement.

The ACLU of Texas released the following message on the announcement.

"The White House released today a fact sheet announcing details on an impending executive action from the Biden administration that will severely restrict people’s legal right to seek asylum. Among the measures announced, the administration will effectively shut off asylum for the overwhelming majority of people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border once the average number of border encounters reaches 2,500 between ports of entry, reopening only once the daily number declines to 1,500, according to several reports.

'We need solutions to address the challenges at the border, but the administration’s planned executive actions will put thousands of lives at risk,' said Deirdre Schifeling, chief political and advocacy officer at the ACLU. 'They will not meet the needs at the border, nor will they fix our broken immigration system.'

The executive action will invoke Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, echoing the Trump administration’s previous entry ban. The ACLU and partners successfully challenged an asylum ban by the Trump administration that took the same approach as the Biden administration. It would also rush vulnerable people through already fast-tracked deportation proceedings, sending people in need of protection to their deaths.

'We intend to challenge this order in court. It was illegal when Trump did it, and it is no less illegal now,' said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

Several polls show that voters nationwide and in battleground states largely reject enforcement-only policies that put vulnerable people in danger. Immigration advocates have continuously called on elected officials to push forward balanced and humane solutions, such as improving processing at ports of entry and addressing the immigration case backlog by investing in immigration court judges and legal representation.

'We urge the administration to uphold its campaign promise to restore asylum and mobilize the necessary resources to address the challenges at the border. It’s not just the morally sound thing to do — it’s good politics,” added Schifeling. “Voters view immigration as a top concern, and they’re looking to our elected leaders to champion solutions that are both effective and consistent with our nation’s values.'"

ACLU of Texas

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico released the following statement.

“Our immigration system and border security need a reset and the President’s Executive Order is an important step in delivering that.

Now we need to use this moment to reform the system. That includes addressing overuse of the asylum process so legitimate asylum seekers can be processed in an orderly way, increasing effective border security, reducing the current, enormous wait times for visas, and expanding the legal pathways to citizenship for DREAMers.

From our front row seat to the dysfunction at the border and in our immigration system, New Mexicans see the effects— on immigrants, border communities, and national security. We want action. 

I applaud the President’s action today and urge him to continue to exercise his authority to tackle as much as he can, given Senate Republicans’ refusal to act.”

Senator Martin Heinrich

The Hope Border Institute also sent out a message in response to President Biden's executive action today.

"The Hope Border Institute strongly condemns President Biden’s executive actions aimed at curbing migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. These actions troublingly threaten to undermine established asylum law and will do nothing to address the causes driving people to seek safety at our borders.

The proposed measures represent another serious shift away from President Biden’s earlier commitments to ensure the humane treatment of vulnerable migrants. These measures will adversely impact border communities, leaving asylum seekers stranded in danger and increasing irregular border crossings, leading to operational chaos and a humanitarian crisis. 

The Hope Border Institute stands with those seeking refuge and calls on the Biden administration to honor its pledge to build a more compassionate and fair immigration system. 

'The Biden administration proposed actions are a real step backward in our nation’s commitment to human rights and asylum protections as well as a humane and orderly process at the border,' said Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of the Hope Border Institute. 'Political considerations cannot override the moral imperative to offer protection to those fleeing persecution and violence. Instead, we can choose to lead with compassion, justice and respect for human dignity.'

The Hope Border Institute

El Paso's Congresswoman Veronica Escobar released the following statement on the announcement.

“Irregular migration between ports of entry has been climbing over the last decade, well before President Biden was in the White House. The reality today is that many migrants arriving at our southern border are economic migrants—whom our country desperately needs—but are unlikely to ever qualify for asylum. As a result of the volume, our asylum system has become so overwhelmed that asylum seekers must now wait several years to have their claims heard, and this is unacceptable. The Republican majority in the House rejected the president’s request for the resources necessary to deal with this challenge and they have also refused to bring real and sustainable legislative solutions to the floor.

While I understand the administration is doing its best to navigate this challenge without adequate resources and appropriate legislation, I am disappointed that the focus today is only on enforcement, and it is my sincere hope that administrative actions on immigration relief, like parole in place for the spouses of US citizens and designations of Temporary Protected Status for vulnerable populations, will also happen.

My colleagues in Congress who want fewer administrative actions must also be willing to compromise and work on lasting, comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform, like my bipartisan Dignity Act. The Dignity Act would not only humanely reform outdated border processes, but it would open up badly needed legal pathways, something both Republicans and Democrats should seek to fix our broken immigration system.”

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar

Marisa Limón Garza, Executive Director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, also released a statement.

“Today’s decision clearly illustrates that this administration is ignoring lessons from the failed deterrence measures put in place by its predecessors. Being strong on immigration doesn’t require an assault on asylum seekers or cruelty toward people seeking protection at our southern border. The Biden Administration doesn’t need to rely on harsh deterrence tactics like Trump’s failed Muslim travel ban and Latino Ban, which were also created to close the doors on refugees and send families back to the violent conditions they fought to escape. Together, these policies represent a concerning trend of political manipulation and irresponsible immigration practices. This does nothing to mitigate the violence and family separations, ignores due process, and moves us away from a humane, safe, and orderly system, inevitably forcing migrants into the hands of cartels and traffickers.

Las Americas stands in complete opposition to this and any measure that keeps vulnerable people in precarity at our borders. Instead of this cruelty, our country needs policies rooted in a more person-centered response at the southern border. We stand ready to contribute our insights and suggestions toward those real solutions.”

Marisa Limón Garza, Executive Director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center

Community leaders with the El Paso Chamber released a statement as well.

"The El Paso Chamber supports the executive action President Biden has taken to address the influx of migrants to our borders. This action will mean fewer disruptions at the port, meaning businesses will not be as impacted as they have been in past years. President Biden's executive actions, while crucial, serve only as an interim measure, highlighting the pressing need for comprehensive bipartisan reforms to secure the Southern border and address the broader immigration challenges facing the nation.

Congress must act. We call upon all concerned citizens and policymakers to reach out to their local representatives and urge them to support the continued push for bipartisan reform, including the extension of work permits for long-term immigrants. Extending work permits to long-term immigrants has the potential to ultimately generate $16 billion in economic activity, while also impacting 10.6 million U.S. citizen adults who live with an undocumented immigrant in the same household. This could impact around 33,000 El Pasoans, introducing around 10,000 new workers into our local labor force. This move would benefit workers nationwide by fostering better working conditions and shielding immigrants from exploitation. This initiative is overwhelmingly popular and has garnered support from numerous organizations and officials.

We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time. Recent discussions and this recent executive action have shed light on the critical impact that current immigration policies have had on our local, state, and federal economies. The current state of our immigration system presents significant challenges, not only to individuals and families but also to our business ecosystem as a whole. The El Paso Chamber, along with many of our community partners, has supported this expansion through our advocacy efforts and by supporting the bipartisan reforms introduced in Congress.

We are at a crossroads where our actions can profoundly influence our economic future. This is why urging President Biden to expand work authorization and parole for immigrants. This is not just a call to action for our President, but one for businesses and organizations to unite in advocating for policies that not only support our local businesses but also strengthen the fabric of our community and nation. The call for reform is not just a moral imperative; it's an economic necessity."

The El Paso Chamber

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KVIA) -- President Joe Biden is announcing executive actions barring migrants crossing the U.S./Mexico border unlawfully from getting asylum.

"These actions will be in effect when high levels of encounters at the Southern Border exceed our ability to deliver timely consequences, as is the case today," White House officials explained Tuesday. "They will make it easier for immigration officers to remove those without a lawful basis to remain and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents."

Biden is expected to make the formal announcement at the White House at 12 PM MT today. El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham are both expected to be in attendance.

The new executive order will suspend entry of noncitizens who cross unlawfully when the Southern border is "overwhelmed." Officials say this will make it easier for immigration officers to remove people without a legal basis to stay in the country quickly. The Biden administration says these measures are not permanent and will be discontinued when "America’s system to safely and effectively manage border operations."

Biden is also calling for congressional action in order to "further secure our Southern border."

The administration is also trying to move through immigration cases more quickly by using the Homeland Security Department's new recent arrivals docket "to more quickly resolve a portion of immigration cases for migrants who attempt to cross between ports of entry at the Southern border in violation of our immigration laws."

"Through this process, the Department of Justice will be able to hear these cases more quickly and the Department of Homeland Security will be able to more quickly remove individuals who do not have a legal basis to remain in the United States and grant protection to those with valid claims," White House officials stated Tuesday.

The Biden administration is also revoking the visas of CEOs and government officials profiting from the unlawful entry of migrants into the U.S.

Those new restrictions apply to Colombian transportation companies who have been profiting from migrant smuggling, the White House said Tuesday. It applies also to 250 Nicaraguans, some of whom are connected to the Nicaraguan government.

The State and Justice Departments are also coming out with new "Anti-Smuggling Rewards" aimed at dismantling human smuggling operations.

"The initiative will offer financial rewards for information leading to the identification, location, arrest, or conviction of those most responsible for significant human smuggling activities in the region," White House officials stated.

Biden says he also trying to "enhance immigration enforcement" by surging Homeland Security agents to the Southern border and referring more migrants for expedited removal.

"The Department of Homeland Security is operating more repatriation flights per week than ever before," the White House added. "Over the past year, DHS has removed or returned more than 750,000 people, more than in every fiscal year since 2010."

Another aim outlined in Biden's new executive actions is the seizing of fentanyl along the U.S./Mexico border.

"Border officials have seized more fentanyl at ports of entry in the last two years than the past five years combined, and the President has added 40 drug detection machines across points of entry to disrupt the fentanyl smuggling into the Homeland," administration officials explained. "The bipartisan border agreement would fund the installation of 100 additional cutting-edge inspection machines to help detect fentanyl at our Southern border ports of entry."

Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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