Biden plans to send migrants back to Mexico when illegal crossings exceed the limit

President Biden plans to issue an executive order on Tuesday that would cut off access to the U.S. asylum system when illegal border crossings exceed daily limits, according to four administration officials and people with knowledge of the plans.

The migrants will be sent back to their home countries or Mexico and are ineligible for asylum once they cross the border, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the pending White House order.

The measure is under consideration by the administration after the failure of bipartisan border legislation this year, which would have enacted a similar trigger to freeze asylum access in times of overcrowding by U.S. officials. They expect daily crossings to be set at an average of 2,500 to 3,000, people familiar with the plans said.

According to the latest government data, illegal crossings along the US-Mexico border have averaged more than 3,500 in recent weeks, so Biden’s order could have immediate effects.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. officials used the public health emergency to quickly “deport” immigrants and deport asylum seekers who arrived illegally. Officials said Biden’s expected order would work similarly, while agents at the border would continue to face limitations including detention space, transportation capacity and asylum officials.

The failed border law would have provided billions in additional funding for deportation capacity and asylum processing, but Republican lawmakers rejected the bill after former president and Republican nominee Donald Trump came out against it.

Biden has already implemented measures to curb asylum claims by immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally, but many continue to be released into the U.S. because border officials lack the ability to detain, screen or deport them. In other cases, immigrants’ home countries won’t take them back or cooperate with U.S. authorities in deportations.

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“The big question for me is whether it will come with additional resources,” said Kathleen Bush-Joseph, an attorney and analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

Officials familiar with Biden’s order say that migrants who say they fear persecution if returned to Mexico will be eligible under the Convention Against Torture and other protections afforded by U.S. law.

Mexico also imposes limits on the number of non-Mexican immigrants it accepts from the United States.

As the issue becomes more important to voters, the president is in a political bind at the border. The surge in immigration during his tenure, which has ebbed and flowed but often exceeded record levels, remains one of his biggest political liabilities, according to strategists.

Trump has continued to attack him for his “open border” policies and what he described as “Biden’s immigration crime,” vowing to implement a tougher crackdown if he wins the presidency.

“Our borders will be closed very soon,” Trump said Friday, as he charged 34 felony counts against immigration and falsifying business documents against New York.

Trump made a similar effort to cut off immigrants’ access to US asylum protection, but the measures remained blocked Biden’s order is expected to be challenged in federal court in 2019 on similar grounds.

“We need to review the executive order before making litigation decisions, but any policy that effectively ends asylum would cause obvious legal problems, just as the Trump administration has tried to end asylum,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt. In an interview Monday, he was a chief adviser on several challenges to Trump’s policies.

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US officials estimate around 2 million illegal crossings a year at the southern border starting in 2021. Often guided to the U.S. border by criminal organizations in Mexico, migrants typically surrender to U.S. border agents and express fear of persecution if returned — the first step to seeking U.S. asylum.

If the daily limit is exceeded, Biden’s order would make them ineligible for asylum protection.

Current agreements allow the United States to send up to 30,000 non-Mexicans across the border each month, but Mexico generally limits entry to Central Americans, Cubans and some Haitians.

Mexican voters overwhelmingly elected Claudia Sheinbaum, the country’s first female president, in a vote widely seen as a referendum on incumbent President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Sunday. Scheinbaum, Oct. 1, has pledged to continue López Obrador’s cooperation with the United States on migration.

While Biden has increasingly embraced Trump’s language on immigration — including vowing to “close” the border this year if it becomes overrun with unauthorized crossings — he has struggled to find a message that can satisfy a diverse coalition of voters. is embracing.

Many liberal lawmakers have criticized Biden for his tough stance on the border, and pro-immigration activists have accused him of betraying core U.S. policies to pursue more humane immigration policies after Trump’s tumultuous tenure.

“This administration’s decision to criminalize immigrants — many of whom are escaping harm — is deeply troubling and wrong,” said Sarah M., senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Rich said in a statement.

“Prosecuting people seeking asylum in the United States for these immigration violations will lead to more black and brown people being incarcerated at the expense of immigrant families and communities,” Rich said.

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White House officials said Biden will continue to explore different policy options to address the immigration challenge.

“Even if congressional Republicans choose to stand in the way of additional border enforcement, President Biden will not stop fighting to give Border and Immigration officials the resources they need to secure our border,” White House spokesman Angelo Fernandez Hernandez said in a statement. .

The expected executive order, a plan by some Democrats to hammer Republicans over the failure of a bipartisan border deal that Trump opposed this year, is unlikely to shield them from a barrage of attacks on the issue.

When the bill failed the first time in the Senate, Biden vowed to take the message across the country and blame Trump for encouraging lawmakers to kill the deal.

While Biden initially pushed that message in campaign speeches, his focus in recent months has shifted to figuring out how much he can accomplish without Congress.

White House officials have long said Biden cannot unilaterally provide the resources needed to secure the border, and have called on Congress to pass fiscal and legal changes that would create an orderly migration system.

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