“Why now?”: Biden’s new immigration policy to limit asylum seekers faces quick criticism in Texas

By Alejandro Serrano, The Texas Tribune

“Why now?”: Biden’s new immigration policy to limit asylum seekers faces quick criticism in Texas” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

A new plan from President Joe Biden to temporarily stop granting asylum to migrants if illegal crossings pass a certain threshold was met Tuesday with immediate rebukes from Texas’ two Republican senators and skepticism about its logistics and timing among groups that help migrants along the border.

An executive order expected to be detailed Tuesday afternoon will bar migrants from being granted asylum when the seven-day average for illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border surpasses 2,500, according to reports that attributed that information to administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. That number would have to remain below a daily average of 1,500 for seven days in order for the border to fully re-open for asylum seekers. Current averages are above that threshold.

Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas, whose city experienced an influx of migrants for months last year, said he welcomed any new policy limiting illegal crossings. But he questioned why the president did not take executive action last year amid record migration or in response to Salinas’ pleas to the federal government for help.

Salinas said he was not invited to the White House like mayors from some other Texas border cities who will join Biden for an announcement of the new policy.

“If he could have done this all along why didn’t he do this last year when our city got slammed — they closed the bridge, businesses were hurting, our first responders were struggling,” Salinas said Tuesday morning. “Why now?”

Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz, both Republicans, blasted the executive order.

“It’s a fig leaf. He has absolutely no intention of actually enforcing any of this. If he did, he would have enforced the law — as we’ve heard time and time again — at the beginning of his administration,” Cornyn said. “This is not an improvement. This is a fig leaf and I think the American people are not going to be fooled.”

Jennifer Babaie of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, a nonprofit that provides legal services to migrants in west Texas and Mexico, said she was concerned about what the order could portend for vulnerable migrants if it does not create safer, legal options for migrating.

“There’s going to be a lot of confusion among people about how to enter. I think we’re going to see more people forced into trafficking routes,” Babaie said. “It’s just danger to women, children and the LGBTQ community that we serve. I mean those are the number one groups of people that we’re screening in Juárez, many have been waiting for months [to enter the U.S.].”

This is a developing story that will be updated.

We’ve added new speakers to the stellar lineup of leaders, lawmakers and newsmakers hitting the stage at The Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 5–7 in downtown Austin. Get an up-close look at today’s biggest issues at Texas’ breakout politics and policy event!

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/04/texas-mexico-border-biden-immigration-asylum-policy/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

More about: