Biden supports Senate border deal, pledges firm border control measures
President Joe Biden expressed support on Friday for the ongoing border deal negotiations in the U.S. Senate, describing them as the "toughest and fairest" reforms yet. He firmly pledged to "shut down the border" upon signing the bill, marking a critical stance amid escalating bipartisan discussions and growing Republican opposition.
These talks have become a pivotal aspect of furthering Ukraine aid, with some Republicans setting border security as a precondition.
Earlier in the day, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson declared the deal "dead on arrival" in its current state, as per a letter to Republican lawmakers reviewed by Reuters. Biden, a Democrat eyeing re-election on Nov. 5, has been grappling with historically high numbers of illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossings during his tenure. Republicans have criticized Biden for not maintaining the restrictive policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who is leading the Republican nomination race.
Biden stated, "If passed into law, this would be the most stringent and equitable set of border security reforms our country has ever seen." He emphasized his potential new emergency power to close the border when overwhelmed, a measure he intends to exercise immediately after the bill becomes law.
The White House is considering new asylum limits at the border, including a rapid expulsion mechanism for illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossers if daily encounters exceed specific thresholds. Sources familiar with the negotiations indicated that mandatory expulsions would be enforced if encounters surpassed 5,000 per day. In December, daily encounters averaged over 9,500, according to recent U.S. government statistics.
This sweeping authority mirrors the COVID-era Title 42 policy initiated under Trump and terminated under Biden in May 2023. The proposed bill would also facilitate asylum claims at legal border crossings and mandate the U.S. to allow a minimum of 1,400 asylum claims per day at these crossings. The bill aims to expedite asylum claim resolutions to six months, significantly faster than the current multi-year process.
Trump recently cautioned against any deal not fully aligning with Republican demands for stringent border controls. Meanwhile, Biden has called on Congress to provide additional funding for border security, including more border patrol agents, immigration judges, asylum officers, and advanced inspection technology to combat illegal drug trafficking.