Biden weighs executive action to end border crisis despite previous claims he had no such authority

President Joe Biden is considering broad executive action to stop the admitting immigrants who illegally cross the border, a move that goes against his previous claims that he lacked legal authority to do so.

The White House is looking at citing Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which would allow the government to stop admitting some or all non-U.S. citizens who come over the border illegally or seek asylum while in custody. The details of the plan remain unknown.

The Biden administration’s sudden consideration was described as “too little, too late” by a former Department of Homeland Security official following the encounters of more than 8 million immigrants at the nation’s border under Biden.

“He had three years to do this. Why now? Well, wait a minute. The election’s coming,” said Tom Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Trump administration, in an interview Thursday. “He wants to act like he’s doing something. Too much damage has been done. Too little, too late.”

Republicans and Democrats have called on Biden to take emergency action for the past 36 months only to be ignored until now, less than nine months out from the contentious November election.

Despite the Biden administration’s view of executive action as a viable option, Biden’s history of inaction and recent statements that he did not have the authority to stop the border crisis are in conflict.

“I’ve done all I can do. Just give me the power I’ve asked from the very day I got into office. Give me the Border Patrol. Give me the people, the judges. Give me the people who can stop this and make it work right,” Biden told reporters on Jan. 30.

Days earlier, on Jan. 26, Biden endorsed a Senate border deal that “would give me, as president, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed.”

In addition, Biden has attacked his predecessor, Donald Trump, for using this particular legal authority in 2018. Trump also used 212(f) to attempt to end the release of illegal immigrants into the country but was sued in federal court, tying up the attempt in litigation.

Biden stated in a January 2021 proclamation that Trump’s use of the 212(f) authority to prevent travelers from several Muslim-majority countries in 2017 was “plain wrong.”

“Beyond contravening our values, these Executive Orders and Proclamations have undermined our national security,” the Biden White House proclamation stated. “They have jeopardized our global network of alliances and partnerships and are a moral blight that has dulled the power of our example the world over. And they have separated loved ones, inflicting pain that will ripple for years to come. They are just plain wrong.”

The rumored executive action has lawmakers in a tizzy, unsure whether to jump on board with the lockdown on asylum-seekers and immigrants or stand against the White House.

One senior House Democrat said Thursday that he was initially on board with Biden’s plans. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), whose district is on the Mexico border, applauded the idea that Biden was now mulling the idea of using the power of the pen.

“Although I have not yet seen a finalized plan and will need to evaluate further once more details are available, I appreciate President Biden considering the remaining options he has within his executive power,” Cuellar said in a statement.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) told his colleagues in a letter sent last month that Biden “should sign an order right now to end the mass release of illegals and dangerous persons in our country.” Johnson balked at the idea that Biden would suddenly take such an action.

“House Republicans have been sounding the alarm about the catastrophic effects of President Biden’s open border policies since he began his term,” Johnson said in a statement. “He has thus far ignored my demands, and the pleas from big city mayors, border state governors, and the American people.”

“Now, in an election year, after the president has surrendered the border to cartels and smugglers, after tens of thousands of Americans have tragically lost their lives due to fentanyl poisoning, after countless unaccompanied minors and young people have been subjected to human trafficking, and after millions of illegal aliens have been scattered by the Biden administration throughout our country — the President suddenly seems interested in trying to make a change using the legal authority that he claimed until recently didn’t exist,” Johnson said.

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Trump chided Biden on social media on Jan. 29 for the Democrats’ claim that legislation was the way to address the border crisis.

“A Border Bill is not necessary to stop the millions of people, many from jails and mental institutions located all over the World, that are POURING INTO OUR COUNTRY,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “I had the safest and most secure Border in U.S. History. I didn’t need a ‘Bill!’”

Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.

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