Biden Unveils Immigration Executive Order After Months Of Insisting There’s Nothing He Could Do

[Photo Credit: Screenshot | White House]

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden unveiled a new immigration executive order Tuesday after months of insisting there was nothing he could do about the ongoing southern border crisis.

Biden’s executive action would pause new asylum requests after the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border hits a daily average of 2,500 over the span of a week. Under the order, asylum requests can resume once the daily average falls back to 1,500. (RELATED: White House Responds To Dramatic Border Video: It’s Trump’s Fault)

“Today I am joined by a bipartisan group of governors, members of Congress, law enforcement officials, most of them live and work along the southern border. They know the border is not a political issue to be weaponized, the responsibility we share to do something about it. They don’t have time for the games played in Washington, and neither do the American people,” the president began.

“So today I am moving past Republican obstruction and using executive authorities available to me as president to do what I can to address the border,” he continued. “Frankly, I would have preferred to address this issue through bipartisan legislation because that is the only way to get the kind of system we have now that’s broken, fixed.”

Under the executive order, “individuals who cross the southern border unlawfully or without authorization will generally be ineligible for asylum, absent exceptionally compelling circumstances, unless they are accepted by the proclamation,” a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday. The order is meant to help U.S. officials be able to reject illegal immigrants who are attempting to enter the country, a senior administration official explained to reporters.

“We must face a simple truth: To protect America as a land that welcomes immigrants, we must first secure the border, and secure it now,” Biden said.

Leading up to Biden’s eventual executive action, the president previously denied that he had the ability to take action on the border, instead blaming Congressional Republicans for the ongoing migrant crisis.

Biden said in January that he had exhausted all options to solve the border crisis and would need more “power” to solve the crisis.

“Have you done everything you can do with executive authority [on the border]?” a reporter asked Biden as he walked out to Marine One on the South Lawn.

“I’ve done all I can do. Just give me the power. Give me the border patrol. Give me the people. The judges. Give me the people who can stop this and make it work right,” Biden responded.

When House Republicans made their trip to the southern border in January, the White House criticized the visit as negotiations over aid to the crisis stalled. The supplemental request, put forth by Biden, tied aid to Ukraine, Israel and the border crisis in one package.

“Actions speak louder than words,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to Politico. “House Republicans’ anti-border security record is defined by attempting to cut Customs and Border Protection personnel, opposing President Biden’s record-breaking border security funding, and refusing to take up the President’s supplemental funding request.”

Later in March, Biden’s aides no longer felt a sense of urgency on the border crisis and the administration’s action on the matter, three people familiar with the administration’s thinking told Politico. Days after the president said he was examining whether he had the “power” to address the border crisis in April, it was then reported that he was searching for the “right language” to take action.

Ahead of the president’s announcement, his actions were already facing backlash. The American Civil Liberties Union plans to sue the Biden administration over the order, Axios reported.

“We intend to sue. A ban on asylum is illegal just as it was when Trump unsuccessfully tried it,” Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the ACLU, told Axios.

Other backlash came from within the president’s own party, while Republicans believe the order came too late, Politico Playbook reported.

“We think it needs to be paired with protections for undocumenteds, folks who have been here a long time,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán, a Democrat from California, told Punchbowl, adding that she was disappointed in the measure.

“I believe immigration has always been the life-blood of America,” the president said. “We are constantly renewed by an infusion of people and new talent. The statue of liberty is not some relic of American history, it stands for who we are in the United States.”