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Biden Backs Senate Proposal for Enhanced Border Control Measures

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to El Paso Sector, El Paso Station Public domain

President Joe Biden has endorsed a new Senate proposal aimed at intensifying U.S. border controls. This move, as reported by CNN, signifies a substantial shift in the administration’s approach to managing illegal migrant crossings at the southern border. The deal, anticipated to be revealed next week, would allow the U.S. to significantly restrict illegal crossings, marking a more stringent stance than previously adopted by Biden and contrasting with the perception of his approach as less firm than his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Under this emerging deal, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would receive new emergency authority to close the border under specific circumstances. If average daily migrant encounters exceed 4,000 over a week, DHS could shut down the border. This threshold increases to 5,000 daily crossings for a complete closure to migrants entering illegally, excluding certain cases of individuals fleeing torture or persecution.

Furthermore, a critical threshold is set at 8,500 crossings in a single day, beyond which DHS must close the border to migrants attempting illegal crossings. Any migrant caught crossing twice during this closure would face a one-year ban from entering the U.S.

The Senate proposal also seeks to expedite the asylum process, aiming to process cases within six months, a significant improvement over the current system that can extend up to a decade.

This bipartisan negotiation, led by Senators James Lankford (GOP), Kyrsten Sinema (Independent), and Chris Murphy (Democrat), is driven by the need to manage surges that have overwhelmed federal authorities. In December alone, over 300,000 migrant encounters were reported, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

Biden’s support for the deal represents a crucial endorsement, as he highlighted its balance of toughness and fairness. His willingness to use the proposed emergency powers, if granted, signals a decisive turn in the administration’s border policy.

The plan, however, faces political challenges. Former President Trump has urged Republicans to reject any immigration compromise, while Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, recognize the need for immediate action given the Democrats’ willingness to adopt tougher restrictions.

The proposal’s unveiling and the subsequent political dynamics will likely shape the future of U.S. immigration policy, especially against the backdrop of ongoing international and domestic crises.