Biden’s Executive Action to Temporarily Shut Down Southern Border

Jimmy Williams

President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive action on Tuesday that would temporarily close the southern border when daily migrant crossings between legal ports of entry exceed 2,500. The border would reopen when the number falls below 1,500, according to sources familiar with the discussions. This move comes as daily encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border are currently averaging over 4,000, indicating that a shutdown could be imminent.

Key Details of the Executive Order

The executive action will rely on a presidential authority under Section 212(f) of the U.S. Code, which allows the president to “suspend the entry” of specific groups of migrants when the number of border crossings becomes too high. The shutdown will not affect trade, travel, or lawful entry by immigrants seeking asylum at ports of entry but will block migrants from applying for asylum if they cross between ports of entry during the shutdown. Exceptions will be made for unaccompanied children and victims of trafficking.

Coordination with Mexico and Legal Challenges

Negotiations have been ongoing with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration to secure cooperation on key provisions. Claudia Sheinbaum, who won the recent election to succeed López Obrador, is also expected to play a role in these discussions. Despite preparations, the administration anticipates legal challenges to the executive order.

Temporary Protected Status for Haitians

Alongside the border shutdown, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti. This would allow certain Haitian nationals in the U.S. to remain until conditions in Haiti improve. The country has been under the control of armed gangs since March, prompting calls from lawmakers to extend TPS and halt deportations.

Political Context and Border Security Issues

The executive action comes amid ongoing political debates over border security. A bipartisan border security bill in May faced obstacles, with Senate Republicans ultimately blocking the legislation. Polling indicates that border security is a vulnerable issue for Biden, with former President Donald Trump holding a significant advantage among voters on this topic.

Expected Increase in Border Crossings

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 179,725 encounters along the southern border in April, with over 1.5 million encounters recorded in the current fiscal year. This fiscal year has already outpaced previous years in terms of encounters. The administration expects an increase in attempted crossings over the summer, prompting the decision to act now.

Next Steps

The White House has reached out to mayors of border cities to attend the signing of the executive order. As the administration prepares for potential legal battles and operational challenges, this executive action marks a significant step in addressing the ongoing issues at the southern border.

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