Biden's new 'emergency authority' in border bill wouldn't truly shut down border, expert says

"The president and the Democrats see the problem, not that lots of illegals are coming over using asylum, but that it looks bad for them, because they're coming across the border illegally," Krikorian says.

Published: February 5, 2024 11:04pm

The recently released bipartisan Senate border deal includes a new "emergency authority" that doesn't truly shut down the border to prevent illegal crossings, says a leading immigration policy expert. 

Illegal immigrants could attempt to enter the U.S. at the ports of entry even if the emergency authority gets triggered, according to Mark Krikorian, an immigration policy expert at the Center for Immigration Studies, and confirmed by a Democrat senator who helped negotiate the language of the bill.

Under the new authority included in the bill, President Biden would have the power to close the southern border if immigrant encounters reach an average of 5,000 per day over a seven day period.

“It’ll also give me as president, the emergency authority to shut down the border until it could get back under control," Biden said last week prior to the official unveiling of the legislation. "If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.”

While the border closure authority has filled news headlines, such as, "What’s in the Senate’s Bipartisan Border-Security Bill and How It Would ‘Shut Down’ Illegal Crossings" in The Wall Street Journal, attempted illegal crossings could still take place at ports of entry, Krikorian explained.

"If this border emergency thing is invoked, if there's more than 5,000 people or whatever it is, at the border, there's a provision that specifically says if that emergency measure is in place, DHS is still required to let a minimum of 1,400 inadmissible aliens through the ports of entry every day, minimum," Krikorian said in an interview with Just the News on Monday.

"The president and the Democrats see the problem, not as lots of illegals are coming over using asylum, but that it looks bad for them, because they're coming across the border illegally," he added.

Krikorian said chaos at the border can be seen on drone videos and images in the media, which looks bad for Biden and the Democrats, especially in an election year. "That's what they want to avoid and so if they all come through the ports of entry, then the problem is solved for them. Even if it's the same number, even if it's more," he said. "That's what they see as the problem, the optics."

Sen. Chris Murphy, D- Conn., the Senate's key Democratic negotiator for the border deal, said on X that the border wouldn't totally shut down.

"Uh there's $2 BILLION a day in trade that crosses the border. Our economy would die if we 'closed the border.' We should control the border (which our bill does), not close it," he wrote on X. "There's just a lot of bad faith actors who want to keep chaos at the border for political reasons."

Murphy's post was in response to a statement from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who wrote on X that the compromise bill is "an utter disaster." In the original post, Cruz said Murphy was "bragging about what an open-borders victory this bill would be."

"As Murphy puts it 'The Border NEVER closes!'" Cruz wrote.

Murphy had posted a thread with highlights from the bill, including, "A requirement the President to funnel asylum claims to the land ports of entry when more than 5,000 people cross a day. The border never closes, but claims must be processed at the ports. This allows for a more a more orderly, humane asylum processing system."

According to Murphy, "emergency cases that show up in between the ports still need to be accepted" and "the ports must process a minimum of 1400 claims a day." Murphy also said that the country's border crisis cannot be fixed "without creating more legal pathways" for migrants to come into the U.S.

“It expands legal pathways to come to the United States," the Connecticut lawmaker said after the final text of the bill was released Sunday evening. "You cannot fix the issue at the border without creating more legal pathways for people to come to United States. This bill includes 250,000 new family and employment visas over the next five years."

Democratic mayors in so-called "sanctuary cities" like New York City, who have taken in thousands of immigrants released into the U.S. at the U.S.-Mexico border, have been calling on the Biden administration to expedite work permits for new arrivals into the country.

The Senate border deal would allow immigrants who are released into the U.S. to receive expedited two-year work permits to legally work in the country.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, advocated for the provision, which would reportedly eliminate the existing six-month waiting period for the work permits.

The bill also would provide children and minors under 13 years of age with free government-funded legal counsel as their case makes it way through the U.S. court system. House Speaker Mike Johnson and House Republican leaders released a formal statement on Monday, declaring that the border bill is "dead on arrival" in the GOP-led House.

"House Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill because it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and would actually incentivize more illegal immigration," Speaker Mike Johnson and other leaders of the chamber said.

“Among its many flaws, the bill expands work authorizations for illegal aliens while failing to include critical asylum reforms. Even worse, its language allowing illegals to be ‘released from physical custody’ would effectively endorse the Biden ‘catch and release’ policy."

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