Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

The Biden administration has a plan to shut down the border. But it needs Mexico’s help.

By 37ci3 May23,2024

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is finalizing the details new executive action would temporarily allow the president closed the southern border to migrants if necessary, and talks are underway to get crucial approval from Mexican leaders before moving forward, according to multiple officials familiar with the negotiations.

President Joe Biden directed the development of senior aides plans to prevent illegal migration months ago, and they are awaiting presidential authority known as Section 212(f) of the US Code, which allows the president to unilaterally “suspend entry” of certain groups of migrants if there are too many attempts to cross the border.

The administration hopes to unveil those and other executive actions in June and is working to cooperate with Mexico on some key provisions, according to multiple officials familiar with the negotiations. Final decisions have not been made and timing is subject to change.

The critical issue is the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico. On June 2, Mexican voters will elect a new president who will serve a six-year term.

Polls show a consistent lead for left-leaning Claudia Sheinbaum, whose candidacy is backed by the outgoing administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

President Joe Biden meets with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the APEC summit, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in San Francisco.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador meets with President Joe Biden at the APEC summit in San Francisco on November 17.Evan Vucci/AP

Immigration is a sensitive political issue in Mexico, and there are concerns that major changes could affect the outcome of the election. Officials said any new policy would likely be made public after June 2.

In addition to invoking 212(f), the White House is considering a number of other steps that could be taken within weeks, officials said, including at least one move to further limit who can seek asylum at the border.

The close coordination with Mexico underscores how important this is in any conversation about illegal immigration along the southern US border. NBC News reported that Mexico has nearly tripled the number of migrants stopped at or within its southern border in the past year, which has reduced the number of migrants trying to cross into the United States later.

Biden last spoke with López Obrador on April 28, when the two agreed to work together on migration issues.

It was seen as an April conversation Sources said that there is a turning point in the discussions.

The flurry of diplomatic activity that followed involved a back-and-forth on Mexico’s role. Two officials with knowledge of the talks said the groundwork is being laid to help Sheinbaum implement upcoming enforcement actions with the Biden administration, including a possible shutdown of the US southern border.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo
If the polls are correct, the head of the government of Mexico City, Claudia Scheinbaum, will replace Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of Mexico.Luis Barron / Future Publishing via Getty Images file

In order for Biden to use his authority under 212(f) to close the border when daily crossing numbers reach set limits, Mexico must be prepared to take back a certain number of migrants who are denied entry to the United States, two officials said.

But Mexico is already spread thin. According to officials involved in the discussions, Mexico’s tightening of the ban and displacement of migrants has come at a cost. Asking Mexico to take back more migrants would add an additional burden.

The Biden administration is preparing for legal challenges with any other executive actions it may take on immigration, including invoking the 212(f) order.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told reporters on Monday that “I expect that if the president took executive action, and whatever might lead to that executive action, it would be challenged in court.”

Senior administration officials echoed that concern, with one stressing Wednesday: “We recognize that there are limits to what any administration can do in this space through executive action.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote on Thursday In a bipartisan border package blocked by Republicans earlier this year.

“Democrats are doing this because we believe in fixing the border, and we have the most — the only real bipartisan bill that both sides have discussed that has a chance to pass and get on the president’s desk,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. ., told reporters on Tuesday. “Anything the Republicans are doing has no chance of passing,” he said, referring to the House Republican border security bill known as HR 2.

Senate conservatives blasted the effort as “not a border security bill” at a press conference Wednesday.

“This is an election-year political game designed to give our Democratic colleagues the appearance of doing something about the problem without actually doing anything,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

Pressed by NBC News about the administration’s plans to use executive authority at the border, Blackburn said the White House is “trying to nuance this situation so they can say, ‘We’re closing the border.’ What we know is that they have no intention of doing that.”

“HR 2 would protect the border, but Schumer and [Senate Democratic Whip Dick] Binoculars [D-Ill.] He doesn’t have the spine to push this bill and really discuss border security,” he said. “So now it’s a half-measure; it squishes.”

The administration has emphasized that a bipartisan border will be more effective than enforcement action alone, especially when it comes to staffing and funding.

“Now it’s up to the Republicans in Congress,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday. “Do you really want to do something about the problem or would you rather use it as a political issue?”

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