Republicans, migrant advocates decry Biden’s executive immigration order


GOP House members say cap on illegal migration should be ‘zero’; advocates worry families will turn to smugglers absent legal remedies

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Republicans aren’t the only ones decrying President Biden’s new executive order to address the years-long migrant crisis at the Southwest border.

Several pro-immigrant nonprofits are concerned the order will deprive asylum-seekers of due process and place them in the hands of smugglers who will take advantage of them.

“The Biden administration’s proposed actions are a step backward in our nation’s commitment to human rights and asylum protections, as well as a humane and orderly process at the border,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of the El Paso-based Hope Border Institute.

The order directs the Department of Homeland Security to disqualify from asylum consideration people entering the country between ports of entry after illegal border crossings reach a daily 2,500 threshold. The measure is meant to discourage illegal crossings and help federal agencies more effectively manage the border.

Republican politicians dismissed the executive action as political. They said Biden has failed to secure the border and encouraged foreign nationals to seek entry into the United States when he took office in January 2021.

“On day one, this president signed dozens of executive orders that caused this border crisis. Since then, he refused to take any responsibility and ownership over this crisis. He also (denied) that he had any authority to solve or address this crisis,” said U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Arizona. “This 2,500-person limit, that’s a problem. That’s how many people can enter the country illegally before we allow our border agents to do their job. If that number can be 2,500, why can’t it be zero?”

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, whose district includes the border cities of Eagle Pass, Del Rio and El Paso, said Biden did nothing to slow illegal immigration when thousands of migrants gathered under bridges next to the Rio Grande for days while waiting to be processed. Now that the November election nears, the president is trying to score political points with an electorate polls show doesn’t believe he is doing enough on immigration.

“President Biden and his administration have ignored the crisis at our borders for years,” Gonzales said. “Now that the election is a few months away, President Biden is using an executive order to score cheap political points. The time for action was years ago, well before we had over 9 million illegal crossings at our border.”

While not criticizing Biden, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, expressed disappointment that the president’s executive order only addressed enforcement. She also chastised her GOP peers for refusing to work on bipartisan immigration reform to solve this and future border contingencies.

“I understand the administration is doing its best to navigate this challenge without adequate resources and appropriate legislation; I am disappointed that the focus today is only on enforcement, and it is my sincere hope that administrative actions on immigration relief, like parole in place for spouses of U.S. citizens and designations of Temporary Protective Status for vulnerable populations will also happen,” Escobar said.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said the executive order would “fundamentally change asylum law” for the worse and open the door for future Republican presidents to go even further.

“If this executive order goes into effect, it’s likely that every future president, especially Republicans, will use and expand it to choke off immigration and the right to asylum,” Castro said in a statement Tuesday. “President Biden has worked hard to build a better future for America and has succeeded remarkably across many areas of public policy [….] But this executive order is the wrong approach and goes too far.”

Marisa Limon Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, agrees alternative solutions are needed to bring about orderly migration to the United States. She called Tuesday’s executive order a “show of force.”

“It’s a way to come down on immigration at the Southern border. This has been reported by numerous news outlets as the issue of this upcoming presidential election, so it’s not surprising for this current administration seeking reelection to come out strong in their stance on the Southern border,” Limon Garza said. “Unfortunately, it is out of step with what are real solutions. [….] We obviously need more things like work authorizations, more legal pathways for people to come in an orderly process and other kinds of humanitarian support for people who are migrating from across the globe,” Limon Garza said.

She added that turning away asylum-seekers could facilitate transnational criminal organizations getting their hands on them or it could force the migrants to take dangerous routes into the U.S.

“The reality is migration is big business. So many people, organizations, governments make money on the backs of people on the move — whether is through the actual movement of people, the housing of people or the incarceration of people,” she said. “We know that people in the crosshairs of this will be at a disadvantage in the process of seeking protection.”

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