Trump blasts ‘pathetic’ Biden leadership on border as White House unveils executive action

Facing mounting political pressure over the wave if illegal immigrants at the southern border, President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed an executive order rejecting asylum requests after the average number of daily encounters tops 2,500. CPB has reported 9.9 million total nationwide encounters from fiscal year 2021 through April of this year.

Published: June 4, 2024 11:04pm

Updated: June 5, 2024 8:41am

President Joe Biden’s new executive order cracking down on illegal crossings at the southern border largely failed to resonate with his conservative detractors, who have contended that the move was a mere stopgap intended to mollify an irate electorate ahead of the November general election.

Reports emerged earlier this week that Biden planned to issue the order, which followed months of reporting that he had been mulling such an option. The order itself would shut down the asylum system when border encounters reached a threshold of 2,500 per day over a seven day period, Politico reported. The border would then reopen when the figure falls to 1,500 per day.

The press release from the White House does not mention the illegal crossing thresholds, but the proclamation does say that "encounter levels increased toward the end of 2023, and December 2023 saw the highest level of encounters between ports of entry in history, as increasing numbers of people migrated through the Western Hemisphere." 

“The goal here is to secure our border while preserving legal immigration consistent with our values as a nation,” a senior administration official told Politico. “There are several differences between the actions that we are taking today and Trump-era policies. The Trump administration attacked almost every facet of the immigration system and did so in a shameful and inhumane way … The actions that we are taking today will only apply during times of high encounters.”

The move drew criticism from Republicans, including both former President Donald Trump and Senate border hawks, with many insisting the measure would be both insufficient to address the influx at the southern border and that Biden was not motivated by such concerns in issuing it.

Biden’s vulnerability on the border

Biden’s overall approval rating currently stands at 40.2%, according to RealClearPolitics, with his disapproval rating at 55.8%. His approval on immigration, however, stands at 33.4% approval and 62.8% disapproval. 

Support for Trump’s signature immigration proposal of building a wall on the southern border, moreover, has gained traction in recent months, with survey after survey revealing an uptick since Biden took office, including among the Latino population.

Trump campaign response

After the order was proclaimed, Trump contended that the order was a ploy to give Biden a talking point on the southern border ahead of their upcoming debate and that his failure to address the matter appropriately had led to the current situation.

“Crooked Joe Biden, the worst president in the history of our country by far, has totally surrendered our southern border,” Trump said in a video posted to Truth Social. “His weakness and extremism have resulted in a border invasion like we have never seen before. Other countries have emptied out their prisons, insane asylums, and mental institutions and sent us drug dealers, human traffickers, and terrorists.”

“Millions of people have poured into our country and now, after nearly four years of his failed, weak leadership, pathetic leadership, crooked Joe Biden is pretending to finally do something about the border,” Trump continued. “But in fact, it’s all about show because he knows we have a debate coming up in three weeks.”

“The truth is that Joe Biden’s executive order won’t stop the invasion. It’s weak and it’s pathetic. It will actually make the invasion worse,” he went on. “Millions of people a year will continue to pour across our border and be released into our country. And we recently learned Biden is secretly granting mass amnesty to hundreds of thousands of these illegal aliens along with welfare, government benefits, work permits, and jobs.”

“He’s not doing that, however, for our veterans. He’s not doing that for our homeless. He’s giving illegal aliens far more than our veterans get. Far more than our homeless get,” he continued. “Many [on] the left are even pushing for illegal aliens to vote in our elections, which is what this is all about. That’s why they’re allowing up to 20 million people since he took office.”

Prior to the order, former President Donald Trump’s campaign excoriated Biden, claiming the order would, in effect, constitute an amnesty for illegal immigrants and that the White House was unconcerned with legitimately securing the border.

“Let's be clear -- Joe Biden's Executive Order is for amnesty, not border security. After importing more than 15 million illegal aliens into our country and releasing countless criminal migrants who have brutally raped and murdered our citizens, this new order will facilitate the release of more illegals as quickly as possible with a smartphone app,” Trump National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt said Tuesday.

“The order also exempts minors from any enforcement, giving a green light to child traffickers and sex traffickers. If Joe Biden truly wanted to shut down the border, he could do so with a swipe of the same pen, but he never will because he is controlled by radical left Democrats who seek to destroy America,” she continued. “Biden's illegal migrants are ravaging our Nation and have caused a crime wave in every state, as proven this week by the Venezuelan illegal criminal who gunned down two brave NYPD officers. The border invasion and migrant crime will not stop until Crooked Joe Biden is deported from the White House.”

Biden taking fire from the left

The American Civil Liberties Union told The New York Times that it planned to challenge the executive action in court. “The administration has left us little choice but to sue,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer at the A.C.L.U, which led the charge against the Trump administration’s attempt to block asylum in 2018 and resulted in the policy being stopped by federal courts. “It was unlawful under Trump and is no less illegal now” Gelernt said.

Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told The Washington Post that “We should be distinguishing ourselves from Donald Trump on immigration ... We should be offering the contrast.”

Rep. Hillary Scholten, D-Mich., an immigration lawyer who represents a swing district, says she is uncomfortable with Biden’s expected action. “I understand that the Biden administration feels like they need to do something,” she told the Post. “It’s heart-wrenching to see that this is the something that they are choosing, knowing full well that this is not going to come close to solving the problem that we are experiencing.”

By the numbers

In a separate release, the Trump campaign put the total number of illegal aliens entering the country under Biden at “at least 10 million.” “This crisis wasn't borne only from Biden's extreme weakness and incompetence, it was by design from the start,” the statement asserted.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has officially reported 9.9 million total nationwide encounters from fiscal year 2021 through April of this year. That figure, however, includes several months of 2020, when Trump was still president. Over the same period, encounters at the southwest land border alone stood at 8.1 million.

Upon taking office, Biden rescinded many of Trump’s immigration policies, notably rolling back the “Remain in Mexico” policy and the Title 42 COVID-era rules. The campaign contended that Biden, should he maintain genuine interest in securing the border, ought to simply reinstate Trump’s own policies.

“Now, Crooked Joe Biden is *pretending* to secure the border with a toothless executive order that allows thousands of unvetted illegal aliens to enter EVERY DAY,” the Trump campaign release continued. 

Included in the statement were highlights of Biden’s prior calls to give benefits to illegal immigrants, including his calls for taxpayer-funded health care, college benefits, community college, and driver’s licenses. A second graphic pointed to his Biden's stances on enforcement, such as ending illegal immigrant detentions, decriminalizing illegal entry, and suspending deportations.

Vindication for the GOP on the border bill?

The order, moreover, appears to have some Republican senators feeling validation over their prior refusal to support a compromise border security package pairing reforms with foreign aid earlier this year.

That legislation would have included a threshold of 5,000 illegal crossings per day to require the Department of Homeland Security to shut down the border. The secretary would also have received discretionary authority upon the clearance of a 4,000 per day threshold.

Though the plan was the product of bipartisan negotiations, the measure drew considerable scrutiny from Republican border hawks and failed to secure the 60 votes needed to advance. The Senate instead approved a standalone foreign aid bill.

At least one Republican opponent of that plan came out against the concept of a crossing threshold more broadly ahead of Biden’s announcement.

“Should be zero,” Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, said in response to initial reporting on the 2,500 crossings per day threshold. “Reminder: I've argued for six months that Biden could easily undo the open border policies he pursued. And that the alleged border security deal pushed by Biden would make the problem worse and hamstring President Trump in the future.”

“The only ‘border security’ package worth its name is something that *forces* Joe Biden to lower daily encounters or else face real consequences. Anything else does nothing for the border and is a political bailout for the Dems,” he added.

Throughout the process, Republicans had contended that Biden already enjoyed the sufficient authority necessary to secure the border and that additional laws were not necessary.

“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,” House Speaker Mike Johnson posted in January. “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.”

Trump for his part, had argued against the bill, saying that "Only a fool, or a Radical Left Democrat, would vote for this horrendous Border Bill, which only gives Shutdown Authority after 5000 Encounters a day, when we already have the right to CLOSE THE BORDER NOW, which must be done.”

In a Truth Social post on Tuesday, Trump reiterated that point, saying “[w]hen I was president, we built over 500 miles of border wall, stopped the flood of criminals, and we had the safest border in the history of our country.”

“We need to secure our border once again. We need to secure our border once and for all. Crooked Joe will never get the job done,” he continued. “He doesn’t want to get the job done… He could have done it very easily. All he had to do was say ‘close the border.’ That’s the power of the presidency.”

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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