San Antonio Democratic congressmen push back against Biden immigration order

The ACLU also said it's preparing a legal challenge to the White House's move.

click to enlarge A group of migrants seeking U.S. asylum walk down a road beside the Rio Grande River to turn themselves in to the Border Patrol. - Shutterstock / Vic Hinterlang
Shutterstock / Vic Hinterlang
A group of migrants seeking U.S. asylum walk down a road beside the Rio Grande River to turn themselves in to the Border Patrol.
Democratic members of San Antonio's congressional delegation joined immigrant-rights groups in railing against President Joe Biden’s Tuesday executive order, which places daily caps on asylum requests at official points of entry.

Under political pressure to tighten immigration restrictions amid a surge in border crossings, Biden issued an order that temporarily halts asylum requests once the average number of daily encounters at official points of entry tops 2,500. Legal crossings would only resume after that daily number dwindles to 1,500.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, warned that the order, if allowed to go into effect, would embolden future presidents — especially Republicans — to "choke off" the right to migrants to pursue legitimate asylum cases.

“The United States of America became the strongest, most prosperous nation on earth because of — not in spite of — immigration," Castro said in an emailed statement. "The ‘daily threshold’ in this executive order would amount to a functional ban on asylum for many families escaping persecution and violence. It would fundamentally change our asylum laws without any new protections for Dreamers or other immigrants who have paid taxes, raised families, and contributed to our nation’s prosperity."

U.S. Rep. Greg Casar, a Democrat whose district includes parts of San Antonio and Austin, urged Biden to look at the reasons behind the current wave of border crossings rather than clamp down on those seeking refuge. The congressman said he's now drafting legislation to address the root causes of forced migration.

“Before we blame asylum seekers for fleeing hunger and violence, we should first end U.S. policies that contribute to starvation and instability in their home countries,” Casar said in a statement. “Instead of enforcing today’s shortsighted executive order, President Biden should end sanctions in Latin America and update our trade and economic policies. This would reduce pressure on our limited border resources without reverting to harsh, Trump-lite measures."

The Trump administration tried to implement similar restrictions in 2018 but the courts shut down its efforts. Officials with the Biden White House have publicly stated they're prepared to defend the new order against similar legal challenges.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the ACLU said it's ready to sue to overturn Biden's order.

“We need solutions to address the challenges at the border, but the administration’s planned executive actions will put thousands of lives at risk,” Deirdre Schifeling, chief political and advocacy officer at the ACLU, said in an emailed statement. “They will not meet the needs at the border, nor will they fix our broken immigration system.”

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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