Joe Biden faces new pressure on immigration

International New York Times, Washington , Jul 17 2021, 10:30 istupdated: Jul 17 2021, 10:30 ist 3-4 minutes

President Joe Biden came under renewed pressure on immigration Friday as authorities said the largest number of migrants in years arrived at the border with Mexico last month and a federal judge in Texas raised legal questions about an Obama-era program that protects young immigrants from deportation.

Border officials encountered migrants nearly 6,000 times a day last month for a total of 188,829, the largest monthly number in recent history, according to data released Friday by Customs and Border Protection. The surge is happening at the height of the hottest summer months, when the flow of people seeking entry into the United States usually abates.

In Texas, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of US District Court in Houston ruled that the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was unlawful, raising new questions about the fate of nearly 600,000 immigrants often referred to as Dreamers. Hanen stopped short of ordering the program terminated, saying the government could not approve new applications.

The ruling adds urgency to Democratic efforts to permanently legalize DACA recipients as part of Biden’s $3.5 trillion economic recovery bill, although the effort could be blocked by complicated procedural rules in the Senate.

Taken together, Friday’s developments underscored the difficult and often politically fraught choices that Biden is confronting on immigration.

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Progressive Democrats have ratcheted up their pressure on Biden to end the use of a Trump-era public health rule that suspends asylum rights in the name of protecting Americans from the coronavirus, calling it an inhumane pandemic-era restriction. But Republicans are eager to portray Biden as an open-borders president who pays too little attention to the consequences of his immigration policies.

The public health rule — imposed last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using what is known as Title 42 authority — has given Biden’s administration additional time to prepare to deal with larger numbers of migrants in the future. But activists say the administration is unfairly denying asylum rights to migrants.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a bill last week that would block the White House from lifting the rule. “The Biden administration shouldn’t sacrifice the health of US citizens to shield illegal immigrants,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

For now, Biden is deferring to the CDC to determine when the policy can be safely ended. Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security, said that the restrictions would stay in place until public health officials said otherwise.

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