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President Biden signs executive order limiting number of asylum seekers at US-Mexico border


A Border Patrol vehicle sits near border walls separating Tijuana, Mexico, from the United States, June 4, 2024, in San Diego.
A Border Patrol vehicle sits near border walls separating Tijuana, Mexico, from the United States, June 4, 2024, in San Diego.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday sharply limiting the number of people requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"President Biden believes we must secure our border," the White House said in a fact sheet released Tuesday. "That is why today he announced executive actions to bar migrants who cross our southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum."

According to administration officials, the order goes into effect once the weekly average of daily encounters reaches 2,500 among points of entry.

The order will prevent migrants who unlawfully cross the southern border from receiving asylum.

But the Biden administration said the actions are not permanent and will be in effect only when the southern border is overwhelmed.

"This action will help us gain control of our border and restore order to the process," Biden said Tuesday. "This ban will remain in place until the number of people trying to enter illegally is reduced to a level that our system can effectively manage."

The fact sheet added that there are also humanitarian exceptions to the order.

Avril Benoit, executive director of Doctors Without Borders, said in a Tuesday statement that the order will trap vulnerable people in insecure cities in Mexico, putting them in grave danger.

"In signing this executive order, President Biden has betrayed his promise to build a fair, safe and humane immigration system," she said. "This order is not only counter to U.S. law and international law, it puts people's lives and health at risk."

Biden is issuing the executive order under a section of the 72-year-old Immigration and Nationality Act known as 212(f), which gives a president broad authority to block entry into the country to any class of immigrants believed to be "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Former U.S. President Donald Trump relied on Section 212(f) to enact some of his toughest actions on immigration, including the so-called "Muslim ban," in which he barred immigration and travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations, and a "zero tolerance" policy for illegal border crossings, leading to the separation of thousands of children from their parents. Trump has promised to resume hardline immigration policies if he is re-elected in November.

"We should be distinguishing ourselves from Donald Trump on immigration," Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal told The Washington Post. "We should be offering the contrast."

Biden is taking action after a bipartisan border security bill was rejected by most senate Republicans — and some Democrats — in February after Trump openly objected to it.

Republican Speaker Mike Johnson's office issued a statement saying the Secure Border Act passed by House Republicans over a year ago would have fixed the problem, but it did not have the support of Biden and Senate Democrats.

"President Biden's Executive Order is nothing more than a desperate political stunt to try and stabilize his plummeting poll numbers," he said in a joint Tuesday statement with Republicans Steve Scalise, Tom Emmer and Elise Stefanik.

But the White House says the president has acted to secure the border, while Congress has failed to act.

"Republicans in Congress chose to put partisan politics ahead of our national security, twice voting against the toughest and fairest set of reforms in decades," the White House said in the fact sheet.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

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