Biden shuts down US-Mexico border

Border shutdown will go into effect immediately, barring asylum seekers from entering the United States

June 05, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: Gage Skidmore

Biden signed an executive order temporarily shutting down the US-Mexico border to asylum requests once the average number of daily encounters of migrants at official ports of entry tops 2,500. The shutdown would go into effect immediately, as the average number of people coming through the border through official ports of entry is averaging around 4,000 people per day.

This action comes after a bill pushed by Biden failed in Congress earlier this year, which would have jointly enacted harsh restrictions on the border and provided millions in funding to Ukraine. Congressional conservatives rejected the bill due to claims that it was not strict enough on migrants and due to conservative opposition to additional Ukraine funding.

Migrant advocates have lambasted the policy. “The suffering of thousands of potential immigrants to this country seeking asylum and protection will be closed by racist policies and lack of immigration reform in this country,” Francisco J. Moreno-Castillo, Executive Director of Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas (COFEM) told Peoples Dispatch.

The move is likely to be unpopular, especially during election season in November, with the diverse and young base that the Democratic Party has cultivated for itself. Biden is hemorrhaging support among youth and Arab-American voters over his currency unconditional support for Israel as it carries out genocide in Gaza.

The executive order, despite being similar to the many draconian immigration policies that Donald Trump pushed through while President, has been criticized by the right-wing for supposed leniency. One of the exceptions the executive order provides is for unaccompanied minors crossing the border. In response, Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavett claimed that this exception provides a “green light to child traffickers and sex traffickers.” 

Other conservatives have joined in the criticism of Biden. “[Biden] created a crisis at the border intentionally,” said Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, of North Dakota. “[The action] has more political risk than political benefit, particularly because his own base is going to reject it.”

Peoples Dispatch spoke to journalist Todd Miller, who reports extensively on the US-Mexico border. “It’s border theater, the type you get during an election year,” Miller said. “Announcing a heavy handed enforcement strategy has been the Biden administration’s campaign strategy since the beginning of the year, when the Democrats championed a border bill that gave 15 billion dollars to CBP and ICE. In other words, on the border, Biden, as a campaign strategy, is trying to out-Trump Trump. Campaign messaging aside, Biden’s border approach has been heavy-handed since the get go, evidenced by the budgets given to border and immigration and border enforcement.”