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Biden expected to unveil immigration order severely limiting asylum-seeker crossings


President Joe Biden is expected to announce an executive order as early as Tuesday that would effectively shut down the US-Mexico border to asylum-seekers crossing illegally when a daily threshold of crossings is exceeded – a sweeping and controversial proposal that is likely to receive fierce pushback from progressives and immigration advocates.

The executive action, described to CNN by multiple people briefed on the order, would mark a significant attempt by Biden to address head on one of his biggest political vulnerabilities, just weeks before the first presidential debate with former President Donald Trump. Trump has made hard-line immigration policies a cornerstone of his campaign.

The executive order uses an authority known as “212(f)” – a regulation used under the Trump administration and widely denounced at the time by Democrats.

The executive action, which has been in the works for months, would severely restrict migrants from seeking asylum at the US southern border if they crossed the border unlawfully once daily encounters between ports of entry reached 2,500, meaning that the measure is likely to almost immediately take effect. Migrants could still request an appointment to present their asylum claim at a port of entry.

Unaccompanied children would be exempt – a key piece of the executive order that would worry immigration advocates who have said such an exemption could encourage some families to send children to the border on their own.

The executive action would allow authorities to turn away migrants while in effect either to Mexico or their origin country. The US previously worked with Mexico when a Covid-19-era border restriction, known as Title 42, also resulted in certain migrants being returned to Mexico.

Sources who described the order to CNN cautioned that changes could still be made to the text before it was expected to be publicly unveiled this week.

The action would mark a significant policy shift for the Biden administration, which has taken a more aggressive approach to border security after years of grappling with border crises fueled by record migration as it has attempted to blunt Republican attacks during a heated election year.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt slammed Biden’s expected order on Tuesday, saying the president is “controlled by radical left Democrats.” Trump sought to use a similar authority to clamp down on border crossings while in office, but was ultimately blocked by a federal appeals court.

Border authorities have recently been apprehending just under 4,000 migrants unlawfully crossing the border, according to a Homeland Security official, and there have been roughly 1,500 appointments per day through the US Customs and Border Protection mobile app.

Under the executive order, the border would reopen once daily illegal crossings drop, according to one of the sources.

Senior White House officials, including chief of staff Jeff Zients, have been calling lawmakers and other stakeholders over the weekend to brief them on the plans, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

CNN first reported that the White House began outreach to border mayors to have them attend the announcement.

Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza confirmed to CNN that the administration contacted him on Saturday to attend a Tuesday event at the White House. Brownsville Mayor John Cowen said he was invited as well and will attend. Harlingen Mayor Norma Sepulveda and Laredo Mayor Dr. Victor D. Trevino have also confirmed that they are expected to attend the event. McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos also said he was invited but will be unable to attend.

CNN’s Camila DeChalus contributed to this report.

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