Current and former Department of Homeland Security officials are expressing concern over President Joe Biden’s assertion this weekend. he wants the authorities to “close” the border.
At a campaign event in South Carolina on Saturday, Biden said Democrats and Republicans were “making real progress” on a bill that would include new border security measures.
“It would also give me, as president, extraordinary authority to close the border until we get it back under control,” Biden said at South Carolina’s First in the Nation dinner. “If this bill were law today, I would close the border now and fix it quickly.”
His comments echoed a statement he issued late Friday, saying he would close the border if necessary “the day I sign the bill.”
Two sources familiar with the negotiations said the bill under consideration would force DHS to close the border if the daily average for migrant encounters reached 5,000 over a seven-day period, or if the number of crossings reached 8,500 in a single day.
During the shutdown, 1,400 undocumented migrants per day will be allowed to legally pass through ports of entry, but restrictions will not be lifted until the number of migrant encounters falls below 75% of the number that triggered the shutdown and remains below 75% thereafter. two weeks. This level of restriction could keep the border closed for months, sources said.
Currently, Border Patrol agents apprehend and process migrants crossing the southern border, releasing about 85% of them into the U.S. with dates to appear before an immigration judge to determine whether they receive asylum or should be deported to their home country. Mexico agreed to take it back 30,000 Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Haitian and Cuban migrants per month, but many times that number cross to the US from those countries.
Two former and two current DHS officials said the U.S. would need Mexico’s cooperation to get more back to close the border and block asylum seekers. migrants.
An administration official pushed back on the idea that closing the border would lead to chaos.
“As the president has said, Congress must pass a bipartisan agreement that provides new enforcement tools and additional resources to protect the border. “These additional resources will be critical to our capabilities, and that’s why the president requested them in his annex,” an administration official said.
One of the two former officials said Biden was sending a political message, but not one based on logistical reality.
“You cannot turn back 8,000 migrants a day without the permission of the Mexicans,” said the former official. “What you’re going to create is going to be crazy waves in the weakened parts of the border.”
Sensitive parts of the border previously included areas as far away as Lukeville, Arizona, and Del Rio, Texas. In 2021, more than 10,000 Haitians were gatheredIt exceeds the resources of the Border Patrol.
Another former official said some senior Customs and Border Protection agents and officers were concerned that Biden would talk about “closing” the border because that would lead to more confusion rather than a solution.
“It looks seriously political,” said a second former official. “CBP and Border Patrol are pretty concerned at this point.”
Two current officials confirmed there were some concerns about the proposal, pointing out that similar measures used under Title 42, the Covid policy designed to stop the passage of asylum seekers, only lasted so long.
A spokesman for the Mexican government did not respond to a request for comment. DHS also did not respond to a request for comment.