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Immigration and the Southern Border in the U.S.


Gregory Matthews

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How Biden botched the border
Illustration of various hands in suits pointed at each other surrounded by various shapes
 

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

 

Aboard Air Force One en route to tour the southern border in January 2023, President Biden sat at the head of his conference table and exploded with fury, Axios' Alex Thompson and Stef Kight report.

  • The president lit into his team, which included then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon, Homeland Security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall and other immigration officials. He demanded obscure immigration data points — and vented when his staff didn't have them handy.

Why it matters: The previously unreported meeting, recounted to Axios by three people familiar with the events, is emblematic of the Biden administration's struggle with the border crisis during the past three years — infighting, blame-shifting and indecision.

Biden's fury subsided, and aides scrambled for the information he wanted. People in the meeting later told others in frustration that his winding process and irritability were making it more difficult to reach decisions about the border.

  • The White House counters that the meeting was "productive." Spokesperson Andrew Bates told Axios that "multiple firsthand participants of the meeting refute this description of the tone and outcome" of a conversation on "the specifics of this complex issue."
  • The rolling chaos along the border has grown to the point that Biden now is embracing immigration policies he ran against in 2020 — such as restricting asylum laws and suggesting he'll "shut down" the border — as the crisis threatens his re-election.

Reality check: Much of the current crisis is rooted in factors Biden's team has had little control over — including unprecedented global calamities that have pushed millions of migrants to the U.S., decades of congressional inaction, and the state of key agencies after the Trump administration.

  • Many current and former Biden officials say they believe they've done their best considering the circumstances. But others told Axios they think the administration has fallen far short on matters within its control.

What happened: The crisis grew slowly. Many administration leaders treated the issue like a hot potato because it was politically thankless, several sources in and out of government told Axios.

  • The idea that no one wanted to "own it" came up repeatedly in interviews about the border crisis. But the problem required a robust and coordinated response at several levels of the federal government.

As the humanitarian conditions at the border have deteriorated and the politics surrounding immigration have become a thorn for Biden, he has become scratchier when the issue comes up, according to current and former aides.

  • "There are definite incentives ... to not be the person who owns the scary issue with no solutions," a former government official close to the issue told Axios.
  • "If you're the person briefing the president, you get to piss him off every day."

Continues below.

🔎 Part 2: West Wing border war
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A left-behind sneaker is caught in razor wire near the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

Warring ideologies inside the White House and the Democratic Party slowed decision-making about the border, Axios' Alex Thompson and Stef Kight report.

  • Some officials wanted policies designed to punish or deter people who crossed the border illegally. Others — including vocal immigration advocates outside the administration — pushed to reform asylum policies and expand legal pathways for migrants to stay in the U.S., sources said.
  • The White House's immigration team also saw constant turnover.
  • As a result, "the strategy was incoherent from the very beginning," said one former Biden White House official involved in immigration policy.

The White House generally didn't want to talk publicly about immigration or the border for much of Biden's first three years, feeling it would draw attention to a political vulnerability, sources said.

  • White House officials limited and pushed against having Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas or other immigration officials appear on TV until a few months ago.
  • Publicly, the White House also initially downplayed jumps in illegal border crossings as normal "ebbs and flows" — even as some internally pushed to acknowledge that the problem was significant.

Infighting broke out among those on Biden's team.

  • Domestic policy adviser Susan Rice emerged as a central — and controversial — coordinator of the administration's approach to the border. Even many of her critics credit her with taking on more responsibility on the border at a time when most other top Biden officials were shying away from it.
  • There's still deep animosity toward Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for what was seen as his reluctance to find more space in child migrant shelters, which are overseen by HHS, according to several sources familiar with the dynamics.

Rice referred to Becerra as a "bitch-ass" and privately called him an "idiot," according to multiple sources.

  • During one meeting when Biden was tearing into Becerra, Rice passed Mayorkas a note that read: "Don't save him," according to two people familiar with the meeting.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates told Axios: "President Biden is proud that his team has worked well together as they work to resolve unprecedented challenges, and as congressional Republicans continue to choose politics over securing our border."

phkrause

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {5T 451.1}
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Poll shows voters are less trusting of state governments when it comes to immigration

As the tension rises between Republican governors and the Biden administration over the U.S.-Mexico border, voters are less likely to trust the state rather than the federal government when it comes to immigration, according to a national public opinion poll published Monday.

https://floridaphoenix.com/blog/poll-shows-voters-are-less-trusting-of-state-governments-when-it-comes-to-immigration/?

phkrause

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {5T 451.1}
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  • phkrause changed the title to Immigration and the Southern Border in the U.S.
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Biden's big border move

In a sign of how concerned the White House is over immigration, President Biden is considering borrowing a page from former President Trump.

Why it matters: The Senate's bipartisan border negotiations are dead. But the president's political problem at the border hasn't gone away, Axios' Hans Nichols and Stef Kight report.

  • The dramatic actions that Biden is considering on the southern border — including an executive order that would restrict the ability of migrants to claim asylum — don't require congressional approval.

Zoom in: Through executive action, Biden would attempt to turn asylum-seekers away at the border if they cross illegally, similar to what the Senate compromise plan contemplated, as first reported by CNN.

  • Trump repeatedly tried to restrict access to asylum — and is planning to do so again if he returns to the White House.
  • The legal authority that Biden is considering powered Trump's Muslim ban and similar sweeping restrictions at the border, which got tied up in courts.
  • If elected again, Trump wants to use Section 212f of the U.S. code, which grants the president broad power to "suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants" if their entry "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States."

The White House still wants a deal from Congress, said spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.

  • "No executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the significant policy reforms and additional resources Congress can provide and that Republicans rejected," he said.

The bottom line: The actions under consideration will inflame Latino groups and the progressive wing of Biden's party, which has expressed alarm about some of the policy changes Biden has been mulling.

  • A White House official cautioned that a final decision has not been made on any potential executive actions.
  • But the official noted the administration wanted to preserve its ability to secure the border.

phkrause

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {5T 451.1}
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Judge blocks Texas law that gives police broad powers to arrest migrants who illegally enter US

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday blocked a new Texas law that would give police broad powers to arrest migrants suspected of illegally entering the U.S., dealing a victory to the Biden administration with a broad rejection of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s immigration enforcement effort.

https://apnews.com/article/texas-migrant-arrests-court-ruling-3bcded91620cbd9686575caa6bcac203?

phkrause

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {5T 451.1}
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