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Mayorkas Unsure What Executive Actions Could Be Taken On Border Crisis — Even As Biden Privately Weighs Options

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas questioned on Monday what possible executive actions could be taken on the southern border as President Joe Biden privately weighs options.

Mayorkas openly wondered during an interview with NBC News what possible executive actions the president could take on the immigration crisis at the border that he hasn’t already or wouldn’t be legally challenged. Biden has spent months weighing a host of options behind closed doors, including asylum reform. (RELATED: Illegal Migrants Are Double Timing It Over US-Canada Border As 2024 Election Looms)

“Why not take executive action right now?” NBC’s David Noriega asked Mayorkas. “Why not do more right now to address this?”

“What executive action are you suggesting that we take that we haven’t taken, that would survive court scrutiny?” Mayorkas responded.


Biden said during an April 9 Univision interview that he was “examining” whether he had the power to curb illegal immigration. The president used executive authority during his first months in office to issue a flurry of policies reversing Trump-era border security measures, including deportation initiatives and the construction of a border wall.

“We’re examining whether or not I have that power,” Biden told Univision. “There’s no, there’s no guarantee that I have that power all by myself without legislation.”

One action Biden considered taking in recent months would make it more difficult for incoming immigrants to claim asylum at the southern border by raising the standard used to determine whether a migrant has a “credible fear” of being persecuted by their home country if they are deported. Biden also considered granting permanent residency status to illegal immigrants who have been inside the country for more than 10 years and have relatives who would suffer if they were deported.

The Biden administration reportedly doesn’t feel a need to take executive actions soon, several people familiar with the administration’s thinking told Politico.

“They’re in that pretty classic mode of, nothing is on fire right now,” an immigration policy advocate, given anonymity to discuss internal conversations about the administration’s policy considerations, told Politico.

Illegal immigration has surged under the Biden administration. Border Patrol made roughly 1.6 million migrant encounters at the southern border in fiscal year 2021, compared to over 2 million in fiscal year 2023 and over a million in the first six months of fiscal year 2024, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

Mayorkas was impeached in the House of Representatives in February over his perceived failure to fulfill his duties as DHS secretary. The impeachment motion was ultimately dismissed in the Senate last week.

Mayorkas has been repeatedly criticized for claiming that the border was “secure.” He called the situation at the border a “crisis” for the first time under oath while testifying before Congress on April 10 after previously refusing to use the term.

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