Biden Places New Restriction on US Southern Border

07:33 June 5, 2024

Biden Places New Restriction on US Southern Border

President Joe Biden announced an executive action Tuesday that temporarily places restrictions on the number of migrants unlawfully entering the United States.

The action is called a proclamation. It says people who cross the southern border of the United States illegally will not be eligible for asylum unless there is an extraordinary reason why they should be permitted to stay.

Speaking at the White House, Biden said, “These actions alone aren’t going to fix our immigration system, but they can help us a good deal in better managing what is a difficult challenge.”

The proclamation says that temporary asylum restrictions will go into effect when the average number of “encounters” is 2,500 or more. The U.S. Border Patrol counts all interactions with people unlawfully entering the U.S. as an encounter. This includes arrests, expulsions and releases.

The limitations will be suspended when the average number of encounters is less than 1,500. In both cases, the average is for a seven-day period.

The restrictions took effect Wednesday. Information first reported by CBS News shows that U.S. Border Patrol officials recorded 3,000 apprehensions on May 20. They also recorded an average of 3,700 apprehensions each day during the first 21 days of May.

Who is affected?

The new rules affect most persons illegally crossing the southern U.S. border.

A Department of Homeland Security official (DHS) told VOA that migrants who cross the southern border and who are being processed for fast removal will meet with an asylum officer. The asylum officer will decide if there is a reason why the person can seek asylum. But the migrant can only seek asylum if they express “a fear of persecution or torture.”

Immigration activists say this is not fair.

Amy Fischer is director of refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA. She told VOA, “If you're able to shout and claim asylum, then you might be able to get through. But what we know is that people don't always speak English. They don't always know that is the way that they have to seek safety.”

Officials who did not want to be identified spoke to VOA about the new measures. A DHS official said the measures are in effect for migrants from all over the world. “In terms of returns to Mexico, we will continue to return nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela per our previous arrangements,” the official added.


There are exceptions in the proclamation for “unaccompanied children” and “victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons.” Migrants facing medical emergencies and those with valid visas or other lawful permission can enter. People who use lawful entry processes, like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s CBP One mobile application or other lawful pathways also are not affected.

A DHS official said those who illegally cross when the restrictions are in place and do not meet asylum requirements will be quickly removed. They will also face at least a five-year ban on reentering the U.S. and possible criminal charges.

During a phone call with reporters, officials from DHS and the Justice Department said the restrictions are necessary. They said summer is a time when migrant encounters usually increase. The action on border security also takes place during an election year. American voters have shown concern about the issue.


Immigration activists have criticized the measure saying it takes away asylum protections.

Amnesty International’s Fischer said the proclamation will prevent more people from getting asylum. She said it would make it more difficult for people to make their claims. Fischer said the action “does not sort out people that have false or ineffective asylum claims. What it does is, it sorts out the most vulnerable.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, said it will bring legal action to stop the restrictions.

Lee Gelernt works with immigrants’ rights for the ACLU. He told reporters in an email that the group will oppose the proclamation in court.

Biden administration officials say the U.S. will continue to meet international requirements.

“These steps will strengthen the asylum system, preventing it from being overwhelmed and backed up by those who do not have legitimate claims,” a DHS official said.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

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