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What Biden can do to help solve the border crisis

by John Jefferson
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As pressure mounts for a solution to the situation at the US-Mexico border, Joe Biden is reportedly mulling a variety of avenues that could reduce the number of immigrants who enter the country.

For weeks now, the White House has been locked in a stalemate with Republicans in Congress over a deal that would pair funding for Ukraine with tougher security measures at the southern border.

“A bipartisan bill would be good for America and help fix our broken immigration system and allow speedy access for those who deserve to be here, and Congress needs to get it done,” Biden said last month, according to the Associated Press.

“It’ll also give me, as president, the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control,” he added. “If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.”

With the presidential election less than a year away, the calls for Mr Biden to take action on immigration are increasingly growing more pronounced — even within his own party.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 49 per cent of Democrats say they view the federal government’s handling of the border situation as “somewhat bad,” with another 23 per cent saying they see it as “very bad.”

The president’s administration is reportedly weighing a number of policies that could help to decrease the influx of immigrants, the numbers for which hit record highs in December.

According to NBC News, officials involved in these talks are considering making it tougher to qualify for asylum by utilising a stricter approach to “credible fear” screenings. These interviews are used to determine whether a person has a valid reason to fear “persecution or torture” if they are forced to return to their home country.

Additionally, officials are reportedly considering more deportations for more recently arrived migrants, in what they described as a “last in, first out” policy.

Mr Biden has not yet said what actions he will ultimately choose to take, and the possibilities re broad and sweeping. He has the authority to re-implement former President Donald Trump’s border policies, CBS reported, such as the “Re in Mexico” program, which required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their immigration case is still pending.

The administration might also opt to double down on efforts to deem migrants as “ineligible for asylum” if they attempt to enter the US through illegal means — a policy they previously passed, but have struggled to implement due to insufficient resources.

Despite calls from Republicans for Mr Biden to suspend federal legislation that allowed migrants — even those who enter the country illegally — the right to request asylum, he reportedly does not have the legal grounds to do so. This was the strategy Mr Trump implemented in 2018 as part of his “travel bans,” but it was later blocked by the Supreme Court.

On the other side of the coin, the Biden administration could also take steps that would allow more people to immigrate through legal pathways — a strategy 69 per cent of Democrats and 43 per cent of Republicans said they believe could improve the border situation, according to the recent Pew Research Center survey.

An even larger pool of bipartisan surveyees — 75 per cent of Democrats and 47 per cent of Republicans — said they think boosting the number of immigration judges and staff so that asylum rulings could be decided more expeditiously — might help.

More than half of Democrats also voiced support for improving the resources necessary “to provide safe and sanitary conditions” for incoming migrants, as well as for making it easier for them to legally work while awaiting a decision on their asylum application.

Support for the border wall, however, has plummeted in popularity even among Mr Trump’s own constituents with 72 per cent of Republicans saying they believe expanding the wall would improve matters at the border, compared to 82 per cent who supported it in 2019.

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