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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Biden’s Southern Border Move Checks Do-Nothing Republicans

and report at nbcnews.com:

“Facing mounting political pressure over the migrant influx at the southern border, President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed an executive order that will temporarily shut down asylum requests once the average number of daily encounters tops 2,500 between official ports of entry, according to a senior administration official….“The border is not a political issue to be weaponized,” Biden said in a White House speech announcing the order.

The shutdown would go into effect immediately since that threshold has already been met, a senior administration official said. The border would reopen only once that number falls to 1,500. The president’s order would come under the Immigration and Nationality Act sections 212(f) and 215(a) suspending entry of noncitizens who cross the southern border into the United States unlawfully.

Senior administration officials said Tuesday in a call with reporters that “individuals who cross the southern border unlawfully or without authorization will generally be ineligible for asylum, absent exceptionally compelling circumstances, unless they are accepted by the proclamation.”

The officials said that migrants who don’t meet the requirement of having a “credible fear” when they apply for asylum will be immediately removable, and they “anticipate that we will be removing those individuals in a matter of days, if not hours,”

Gutierrez and Alba note further that “the White House has repeatedly argued that it was congressional Republicans who have failed to act on immigration. Earlier this year, Trump urged House GOP members to kill a bipartisan border funding bill that had been negotiated in the Senate. At the time, House Speaker Mike Johnson and other Republicans said that the Senate bill didn’t go far enough and they argued that a more hard-line immigration bill in the House was preferable.”

At Politico Jennifer Haberkorn and Myah Ward add, “It also is designed to give Biden’s campaign, as well as Democratic candidates in key House and Senate races, the ammo they believe they need to push back on relentless Republican attacks. Shortly after the president made his announcement, the Democratic National Committee sent surrogates talking points pointing to the February defeat of a bipartisan border bill by congressional Republicans and laying out its preferred framing for the debate: “President Biden took action after Donald Trump and his MAGA friends said ‘no’ to border security.” Further,

Polling shows immigration has risen among the main concerns for voters in both parties, and is the top concern of Republicans. A February NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll found that 41 percent of Americans believe the GOP will do a better job of handling the issue.

Hoping to turn around those numbers, the White House on Tuesday booked interviews for administration officials and allied lawmakers on national broadcast, Spanish language media and regional press across the country, according to an White House official. That effort is expected to go through the week.


Biden’s new executive action carries some risk within his own party. Progressives and immigration advocates are deeply frustrated at what they see as a return to Trump-era policies and worry about the long-term implications of Democrats embracing the new measures. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly said it would sue the administration over the action, threatening to stall it right at the point of implementation.

Immigration advocates and progressives are still holding out hope that the administration would follow Tuesday’s tough action with relief for long-term, undocumented residents like caregivers, farmworkers and spouses of U.S. citizens later this year. White House officials have not taken these policy moves off the table, according to three people familiar with the administration’s thinking, who were granted anonymity to discuss private conversations. But a final decision could ultimately depend on how much political pressure is facing the president in the months ahead.

….The Biden campaign, for now, appears comfortable with its positioning. The president on Tuesday stood next to mayors from border cities and fellow Democratic lawmakers supportive of his new approach. In attendance was Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) — whose February special election race was seen among Biden campaign officials as proof that going aggressive on border security could appeal to a swath of independent voters; and, perhaps as importantly, defang Republican attacks on the issue.

Democratic Senate candidates have already posted ads on Republican opposition to the Senate border bill — particularly in the face of Democrats’ support for anti-fentanyl policies — and have talked about the local effect in non-border states like Ohio. Many of the Democratic candidates in battleground states are expected to maintain that drumbeat following Tuesday’s announcement.

Haberkorn and Ward conclude, “on Tuesday, there were also indications that Biden saw a need to ensure that progressives didn’t feel like he was giving away too much in search of a modest political gain….“I will never demonize immigrants. I will never refer to immigrants as poisoning the blood of a country. And further, I will never separate children from their families at the border,” Biden said, making a clear contrast with his predecessor and current opponent.”

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