Biden’s Border Order Draws Mixed Reaction on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a sweeping executive action to reduce illegal crossings at the southern border went into effect. President Joe Biden signed the order Tuesday, which will effectively shut down the US-Mexico border when a daily threshold of illegal crossings is exceeded.  

“I’m moving past Republican obstruction and using the executive authorities available to me as president to do what I can on my own to address the border,” said Biden on Tuesday. “If an individual chooses not to use our legal pathways, if they choose to come without permission and against the law, they’ll be restricted from receiving asylum and staying in the United States.” 

Migrants seeking asylum unlawfully will now be turned away once daily encounters between ports of entry reach 2,500. 

“This is purely 100% political,” said Rep. Jack Bergman (R- MI). 

Republicans on Capitol Hill are bashing the order, which comes five months before the 2024 Presidential Election. 

“If it took the President three and a half years to figure out that there’s a crisis at the border, I don’t think that’s somebody I want running border policy,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R- PA). 

With millions of migrants having already entered illegally, Republicans say most of the damage is already done. 

“It’s kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has left,” said Rep. Bergman. “They have failed abysmally, and now we have to deal with it in our local neighborhoods,” he added. 

“This is an administration that has chosen not to enforce those laws, to sit by idly and watch 11 to 12 million illegal people come into our country. And they’re telling me now at 5 minutes to midnight, you realize there’s a problem and I better address it,” said Rep. Kelly. 

As Republicans criticize and point the finger at the Biden Administration, many Democrats in Congress are pointing the finger at Republicans, saying that they had every opportunity to address the crisis at the border earlier this year. 

“I voted twice for the toughest border bill in 25 years, the most bipartisan border deal we’ve ever seen,” said Senator Bob Casey (D- PA). 

Following months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a comprehensive border bill earlier this year. Their effort was shot down by Republican opposition, first in February and for a second time in May.  

Sen. Casey said former President Donald Trump encouraged Republicans not to support the legislation. 

“I think they walked away because their presidential candidate told them to walk away from it,” said Casey. “Even after our side made huge concessions on substantial changes in policy.” 

Casey said he supports any effort to reduce crossings and help law enforcement but believes the best way to do that is with statutory change. Executive orders can be limited and susceptible to challenges and lawsuits. Organizations like the ACLU have already vowed to sue Biden over the executive order. 

“Republicans and Democrats should continue to work together to provide not just the resources, but the statutory change in policy that allows us to reduce the number of crossings,” said Casey. 

Asylum will still be available for migrants in special circumstances, such as unaccompanied children and victims of human trafficking. Migrants who make appointments at ports of entry can also seek asylum. 

Biden’s order can essentially be turned on or off when certain thresholds are met. If the initial 2,500 migrant threshold is met, 1,500 encounters or less for fourteen days would be required before more migrants are accepted.