Feb 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden's bold and risky border move

This is Joe Biden

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a sign of how concerned the White House is over immigration, President Biden is considering borrowing a page from former President Trump.

Why it matters: The Senate's bipartisan border negotiations are dead. But the president's political problem at the border hasn't gone away.

  • The dramatic actions that Biden is considering on the southern border – including an executive order that would restrict the ability of migrants to claim asylum — don't require congressional approval.

Zoom in: Through executive action, Biden would attempt to turn asylum seekers away at the border if they cross illegally, similar to what the Senate compromise plan contemplated, as first reported by CNN.

  • Trump repeatedly tried to restrict access to asylum – and is planning to do so again if he returns to the White House.
  • The legal authority that Biden is considering powered Trump's Muslim ban and similar sweeping restrictions at the border, which got tied up in courts.
  • If elected again, Trump wants to use Section 212f of the U.S. code, which grants the president broad power to "suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants" if their entry "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States."

The White House still wants a deal from Congress, said spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.

  • "The Administration spent months negotiating in good faith to deliver the toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades."
  • "No executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the significant policy reforms and additional resources Congress can provide and that Republicans rejected," he said.

The bottom line: The actions under consideration will inflame Latino groups and the progressive wing of Biden's party, which has expressed alarm about some of the policy changes Biden has been mulling.

  • A White House official cautioned that a final decision has not been made on any potential executive actions.
  • But the official noted that the administration wanted to preserve its ability to secure the border.
Go deeper