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WH Weighs Executive Actions for Border 02/22 06:19

   The White House is considering using provisions of federal immigration law 
repeatedly tapped by former President Donald Trump to unilaterally enact a 
sweeping crackdown at the southern border, according to three people familiar 
with the deliberations.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is considering using provisions of 
federal immigration law repeatedly tapped by former President Donald Trump to 
unilaterally enact a sweeping crackdown at the southern border, according to 
three people familiar with the deliberations.

   The administration, stymied by Republican lawmakers who rejected a 
negotiated border bill earlier this month, has been exploring options that 
President Joe Biden could deploy on his own without congressional approval, 
multiple officials and others familiar with the talks said. But the plans are 
nowhere near finalized and it's unclear how the administration would draft any 
such executive actions in a way that would survive the inevitable legal 
challenges. The officials and those familiar with the talks spoke to The 
Associated Press on condition of anonymity to comment on private ongoing White 
House discussions.

   The exploration of such avenues by Biden's team underscores the pressure the 
president faces this election year on immigration and the border, which have 
been among his biggest political liabilities since he took office. For now, the 
White House has been hammering congressional Republicans for refusing to act on 
border legislation that the GOP demanded, but the administration is also aware 
of the political perils that high numbers of migrants could pose for the 
president and is scrambling to figure out how Biden could ease the problem on 
his own.

   White House spokesperson Angelo Fernndez Hernndez stressed that "no 
executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the significant policy 
reforms and additional resources Congress can provide and that Republicans 
rejected."

   "The administration spent months negotiating in good faith to deliver the 
toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades because we need 
Congress to make significant policy reforms and to provide additional funding 
to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system," he said. 
"Congressional Republicans chose to put partisan politics ahead of our national 
security, rejected what border agents have said they need, and then gave 
themselves a two-week vacation."

   Arrests for illegal crossings on the U.S. border with Mexico fell by half in 
January from record highs in December to the third lowest month of Biden's 
presidency. But officials fear those figures could eventually rise again, 
particularly as the November presidential election nears.

   The immigration authority the administration has been looking into is 
outlined in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives 
a president broad leeway to block entry of certain immigrants into the United 
States if it would be "detrimental" to the national interest of the United 
States.

   Trump, who is the likely GOP candidate to face off against Biden this fall, 
repeatedly leaned on the 212(f) power while in office, including his 
controversial ban to bar travelers from Muslim-majority nations. Biden 
rescinded that ban on his first day in office through executive order.

   But now, how Biden would deploy that power to deal with his own immigration 
challenges is currently being considered, and it could be used in a variety of 
ways, according to the people familiar with the discussions. For example, the 
ban could kick in when border crossings hit a certain number. That echoes a 
provision in the Senate border deal, which would have activated expulsions of 
migrants if the number of illegal border crossings reached above 5,000 daily 
for a five-day average.

   House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has also called on Biden to use the 
212(f) authority. Yet the comprehensive immigration overhaul Biden also 
introduced on his first day in office -- which the White House continues to 
tout -- includes provisions that would effectively scale back a president's 
powers to bar immigrants under that authority.

 
 
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