In a decisive move to manage the escalating migrant crisis at the U.S. southern border, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation yesterday that temporarily suspends asylum requests when daily encounters exceed 2,500 between official ports of entry. This directive comes into effect immediately as this threshold has already been surpassed, with the border set to reopen once the figures retreat to below 1,500.

This executive action, dictated under the Immigration and Nationality Act sections 212(f) and 215(a), aims to suspend entry for noncitizens who unlawfully cross the southern border. Senior administration officials highlighted that most individuals who enter unlawfully or without authorization will be generally ineligible for asylum, except in rare, extremely compelling cases.

Officials have expressed a readiness to expedite the removal of migrants who fail to meet the credible fear requirement in asylum applications, estimating deportations could occur within days or even hours. The White House communicated these pivotal changes to lawmakers on Monday, with further details released the following day prior to Biden’s formal announcement.

The implementation of these measures is not without controversy. Texas State Representative Eddie Morales, Jr., sees it as a necessary step towards securing the border, although previous attempts at similar restrictions under the Trump administration were obstructed by legal challenges. The Biden administration is prepared to defend this new proclamation against anticipated legal disputes.

Amidst sharp criticism from Republican circles, who view the action as insufficient and politically risky, the White House has reiterated that the failure of congressional Republicans to address immigration issues has compounded the crisis. This assertion was supported by past instances where opposition from Republicans led to the downfall of bipartisan immigration bills.

Additionally, the proclamation specifies exceptions, notably for unaccompanied children. However, this exception has drawn fierce criticism from Donald Trump’s campaign, suggesting it might inadvertently facilitate child and sex trafficking. These remarks reflect the deeply polarized views on how best to manage the influx of migrants and the associated security concerns.

The backdrop to this proclamation is the recent presidential election in Mexico and the intensifying campaign season in the U.S., where immigration remains a critical issue. Trump’s significant polling lead over Biden on handling immigration underscores the political stakes involved.

This executive action aligns with Biden’s broader immigration strategy, which has emphasized opening lawful pathways for individuals and families to enter the U.S. This includes the use of the CBP One mobile application and various family reunification programs. Yet, many immigration advocates feel betrayed, voicing that the new harsher policies deviate from Biden’s initial promises of a more humane approach at the border.

As this policy takes effect, its implications on migrant communities, the functioning of border control, and the political landscape will unfold. With Biden facing criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, the success or failure of this proclamation could have far-reaching consequences for his administration and the broader U.S. immigration policy framework.