Biden to Announce Major Border Policy Amid Political and Legal Challenges

President Joe Biden is expected to announce a significant border control policy in June, according to advocates and Hill aides. White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials are finalizing the details, following the administration’s recent measures to expedite the asylum process.

Biden’s new policy is expected to grant him the authority to “shut down” the border between ports of entry if illegal daily crossings reach a specific number. The New York Post reported Wednesday that this threshold would be 4,000 daily crossings over a week, similar to a trigger in a bipartisan border deal that failed earlier this year. Sources familiar with the plans confirmed similar figures but noted that the number could change. A White House official added that the timing and specifics of the policy might shift until a final decision is made.

The executive action has been in development for months as Biden addresses the politically challenging issue. Initially anticipated before Biden’s State of the Union address, the policy changes were delayed due to a decrease in border crossings following increased enforcement in Mexico. The administration also sought to maximize opportunities to criticize Republicans for blocking the bipartisan deal, influenced by former President Donald Trump. This messaging was evident when several Democratic senators marked 100 days since Republicans “killed” the border bill on social media. The Democratic National Committee echoed this sentiment in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated he will attempt to revive the bipartisan border bill for a vote, possibly next week. If the vote fails, as expected, it could provide the White House with additional justification to proceed unilaterally.

Biden’s move fits into his election-year strategy on immigration, aiming to show voters he has explored all options to address the issue ahead of a potential rematch with Trump.

A June announcement would likely follow Mexico’s election on June 2, according to multiple sources. This timing allows the White House to introduce the policy before the election season intensifies and ahead of the conventions later this summer. The president aims to announce the executive action before his debate with Trump at the end of the month.

However, political timelines are straightforward. Biden’s policy will likely face legal challenges, similar to those encountered by the Trump administration when using section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to shape immigration policy. Biden will also face substantial political backlash from the left.

Operationally, immigration experts warn that efforts to limit asylum-seekers during border surges won’t stop smugglers and traffickers from targeting nationalities, such as Cubans, Venezuelans, and Colombians, who can’t be easily deported to countries that often refuse U.S. or Mexican deportation flights. They also caution that border shutdown triggers could cause erratic surges in remote areas, disrupting Border Patrol operations.

Biden administration officials believe the executive actions could alleviate some political pressure but acknowledge that without congressional action, the immigration challenge remains unresolved. The focus is on reducing border numbers while ramping up criticism of Republicans and Trump, who continue to poll better than Biden on immigration.

“Every week, they’re just going to whittle away at the narrative politically,” said a former administration official. “And this is just another move to do that.”