Could Biden’s recent immigration decree improve the border situation?

Last week, President Biden enacted a presidential order permitting immigration authorities to deny migrants the chance to seek asylum in the U.S. if the count of border crossings exceeds a certain limit.

This order, considered by many as a stringent move against immigration by a Democrat in contemporary times, has been portrayed by some in the media as Biden acquiring the ability to “close off” the border. However, its actual implications are rather nuanced.

The new directive doesn’t influence other aspects of sanctioned immigration; it is narrowly focused on asylum immigration. Both under domestic and global law, any individual arriving at the U.S. borders can seek refuge by stating they are persecuted back home. Nevertheless, this doesn’t guarantee them residency—many asylum petitions are eventually denied—but it does permit them to present their case.

An accelerating number of individuals seeking asylum in recent years has inundated the U.S. system, leading to a situation where officials must release them into the country while they wait for a hearing—often a prolonged period. Despite a failed cross-party legislative effort earlier this year, which would have funded an increase in asylum officers and judges, Biden asserted the blockage left him no alternative but to act independently.

With Biden’s mandate, migrants entering the U.S. across the border will not have the privilege of applying for asylum once the entries surpass 2,500 per day—a number significantly below current averages. This could potentially mean sustained restrictions unless there’s a large and unanticipated decline in unauthorized arrivals.

This order does not represent an absolute prohibition on asylum pleas. It excludes unaccompanied children and permits immigration officers to exercise discretion for individuals at exceptional risk upon deportation or when “operational constraints” render detention unfeasible. It also maintains the possibility for seeking asylum at official entry points, although that pathway is significantly delayed as well.

Biden’s command faces intense scrutiny from both liberals and conservatives, albeit for distinct reasons. Humanitarian groups and several leftist politicians argue that the fresh guidelines will only augment suffering without resolving the disarray at the borders. They contend Biden, once committed to ending Trump’s severity, has renounced his values in an ill-fated attempt to bolster his fragile polling figures on immigration. There’s also a legal debate on whether the order is in line with the constitution.

While Republicans tend to support tough immigration measures, the consensus among them is that these new restrictions are insufficient and belated in addressing the real issues at the border. Some posit the decision as the president’s desperate move to seem stringent on immigration following a period of policies they see as lenient, leading to a surge in asylum requests.

There are, however, a few who defend Biden, particularly political moderates. They suggest that given Congress’s inaction, especially from Republicans averse to granting Biden a political win, the president is utilizing what few resources he has to handle the situation.

A critical issue regarding Biden’s asylum policies is their legal sustainability. The American Civil Liberties Union intends to challenge the presidential order with litigation, referencing similar legal arguments that previously overturned a comparable directive issued by Trump.

Biden’s attempt to secure additional votes comes at the cost of his integrity

“It’s truly regrettable that our president, once an ally to those seeking refuge, seems ready to so easily discard their lawful and inherent rights.” — Paul Reyes, CNN

The president doesn’t merit praise for belatedly addressing a predicament of his own making

“Biden’s executive edict confirms he always retained the power to tighten the borders, not simply lax them, and it signifies an own goal for a crisis he cultivated through calculated decisions.” — Rich Lowry, National Review

While unable to rectify the border conundrum single-handedly, Biden strives to do his utmost

“A resolution to the border quandary necessitates a legislative body in working order. … But in the absence of such a body, the executive is executing what minor advances it can.”

During the course of this process, Biden is depriving Republicans of an electoral matter that once was a dependable victory for the GOP.” — Commentary, Dallas Morning News

If implemented earlier, the decree could have been impactful

“At this juncture, Biden’s finally choosing the correct course. It’s just regrettable he delayed close to four years before taking action.” — Ingrid Jacques, USA Today

Despite the order’s perceived severity, an overwhelmed system prevents a viable border

“Greeting entrants with respect is critical, yet our ability to welcome has limits. Consequently, I see no error in the efforts of the Biden administration to decrease the flow.” — Farah Stockman, New York Times

This decree is unlikely to make the frontier more controllable, yet it will inflict considerable hardship

“It’s not reliable for deterrence or cessation of migratory flows. However, it will undoubtedly result in turmoil, in pandemonium, and imperil human lives.” — Monika Y. Langarica, a principal lawyer with the Center for Immigration Law and Policy, speaking to the Guardian

Politically, it’s essential for Biden to at least present an appearance of striving to enact measures

“Currently, the Biden administration is manipulating the tools of governance to enhance the prospects of prevailing in November. They can hardly be faulted. Our governmental framework incites this behavior. There’s a distinction between genuine, tangible achievements and the perception of success by the public. They are disparate. Until this dissonance is bridged, expect chief executives to continue staging spectacles.” — Kenneth Lowande, The Hill

Biden’s recent portrayal of being staunch on immigration isn’t convincing anyone

“It appears to be merely the latest in his extensive series of insincere solutions, yet another attempt to appear resolute whilst effectually doing nothing.” — Commentary, New York Post

Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images

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