What’s happening: President Joe Biden’s team spent weeks negotiating border security legislation with senators. The White House now claims Biden is ready to pass “the toughest and fairest set of reforms … we’ve ever had in our country” — if Republicans stop resisting.
- Zoom out: Illegal border crossings have decreased since Mexico started cracking down weeks ago, but the U.S. is still seeing thousands per day. Recent polls show most voters consider immigration a top issue in the 2024 elections and want stricter policies.
- No deal: Republicans say Biden’s promises are empty because the legislation would legalize at least 5,000 migrant crossings per day — nearly two million every year.
- History: Past presidents have shut down ports of entry at the border with no legal constraints.
How we got here: Biden changed executive policy to make it easier to enter and remain in the U.S. illegally.
- Easy asylum: His administration allowed far more asylum seekers to enter the U.S. by removing traditional barriers. It also ended the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy after fighting legal challenges up to the Supreme Court.
- Illegal parole programs: The administration has expanded “parole” for migrants — which federal law already allows on a case-by-case basis — by making entire countries eligible and flouting court orders declaring it illegal.
- Almost no removals: Biden paused deportations on his first day in office and has kept them at a rate of about one percent.
Why it matters: Biden could end these policies himself and drastically reduce illegal migration. But the Biden administration is keeping its loose border operations going while portraying Republicans as obstructionist for rejecting legislation — shifting the political blame for the crisis ahead of the elections.