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Democrats, White House say Biden already has the power to better secure border without new laws

Pressure is mounting on Biden to issue executive orders to address the border crisis after he rescinded many of Trump's border-related executive orders upon taking office.

Published: January 31, 2024 11:00pm

Updated: February 1, 2024 8:50am

Some Democrats and the White House have acknowledged that President Biden could take executive actions to better secure the U.S. border without additional legislation passed by Congress.

Pressure is mounting on Biden to issue executive orders to address the border crisis after he rescinded many Trump-era border executive orders upon taking office. Biden unilaterally ended the border emergency that Trump had implemented after he took office in January 2021 as well.

Just the News asked Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., how he responds to those who argue that Biden could fix a lot of the border issues unilaterally since he eliminated a lot of former President Donald Trump's border executive orders when he came into office.

"There's a lot of issues here, OK? There's some things he could do," he said. "I'm hoping that as soon as the Senate comes up with their deal, that we get at least a shot at looking at it, voting. I'm not sure if I'll support it. Give us a shot at voting on it."

Biden ended the "Remain in Mexico" policy, which required the asylum seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border to wait in Mexico while their cases makes their way through the U.S. Immigration Court system. He also halted construction of additional physical barriers along the border.

The White House has said there are steps Biden can take on his own but he's holding out for congressional leaders to make a deal and pass it to his desk. 

“You heard from the president, I think on the, just a moment ago, that certainly he feels that there are things that are within his power, but there are also things that are not within his power that he is looking for a congressional authority to do in order to step up border security," said White House Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton. “We’re in the middle of negotiating a good faith across the aisle with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to try and get this proposal done."

Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, D-Texas, has called on the Biden administration to do more to secure the border. He said that the administration should raise the "credible fear standards" for asylum, given that more than 70% of asylum seekers ultimately do not qualify. He said Biden must "change the way" that the Department of Homeland Security is interpreting U.S. asylum laws.

"We need to send a message to the world that if you show up to our southern border, you don't just get to come in," he said on CNN. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson has emphasized that Biden already has the authority to make significant changes to border policy in the absence of a border deal in Congress.

“President Biden falsely claimed yesterday he needs Congress to pass a new law to allow him to close the southern border, but he knows that is untrue,” Johnson wrote on X over the weekend. “As I explained to him in a letter late last year, and have specifically reiterated to him on multiple occasions since, he can and must take executive action immediately to reverse the catastrophe he has created."

Johnson has been critical of the potential border deal allowing up to 8,500 migrants to enter the U.S. at the border in a single day or an average of 5,000 per day before a border shutdown would be triggered. He said a bill that includes such provisions would be "dead on arrival" in the House.

"I am emphasizing again today that House Republicans will vigorously oppose any policy proposal from the White House or Senate that would further incentivize illegal aliens to break our laws," Johnson reportedly wrote in a letter to his colleagues this past Friday.

Biden has taken executive action related to asylum in the past without requesting authorization from Congress.