Apr 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden exploring if he has "power" to shut down border unilaterally

Biden is interviewed by an anchor in the Roosevelt room

Screenshot: Univision

President Biden said that his administration is exploring whether he has the authority to shut down the southern border without authorization from Congress.

Why it matters: Taking executive action on the border has been described internally as the nuclear option. But it's clearly still on the table.

  • While the number of migrant crossings has declined during the first part of the year, Biden officials know they have a political problem over the border and immigration.

Driving the news: "We're examining whether or not I have that power," Biden told Univision's Enrique Acevedo in an interview taped last week that aired Tuesday night.

  • "Some are suggesting that I should just go ahead and try it," Biden said. "And if I get shut down by the court, I get shut down by the court."
  • Biden was clear that he has not made a final decision, adding that there was "no guarantee" that he has the power to take action on the border without legislation from Congress.

Zoom out: Bipartisan legislation to give the president more resources and power to control the border failed earlier this year.

  • During his State of the Union, Biden defended the legislation and dared Republicans to defy former President Trump and help him fix it.
  • Before the speech, Biden officials had been exploring how they could essentially close the border with Mexico by turning asylum seekers away if they cross illegally.

Zoom in: For Democrats, there have been some warning signs that Biden is losing support with Latino voters.

  • In his first year in office, Biden held a 54-24 advantage over former President Trump, according to the latest Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo.
  • That 29-point margin has dropped to 9 points, with Biden leading Trump 41-32.
  • Other evidence suggests that Democrats aren't losing that much Latino support. Hispanic voters favor Democrats over Republicans 61-35, according to the latest Pew Research Center survey.

Meanwhile: Biden used the interview to criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the war in Gaza.

  • "I think what he's doing is a mistake," Biden said in the interview.
  • "I don't agree with his approach."
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