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Biden Stiffens Border Rules Amid GOP Paralysis | National News

As House Republicans scrambled to choose the person who will become second in line to the presidency, President Joe Biden on Thursday seized one of his most vulnerable political issues – immigration – with an announcement of new policies meant to ease entry for those who follow the rules while expediting expulsion for those who break them.

Under the new rules, which senior White House officials said would take effect immediately, would-be immigrants who enter the country illegally and do not have a legal basis to stay will be “increasingly subject to expedited removal to their country of origin” and will be banned from reentering the United States for five years.

Meanwhile, the administration will expand a parole process currently in effect for people fleeing political turmoil in Venezuela to include individuals from Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba. Under those rules, up to 30,000 people per month can come to the United States for up to two years and receive work authorization, as long as they have a U.S. sponsor and have passed vetting and background checks, the White House said.

Since those migrants would need a U.S. sponsor and substantial resources to come to the United States, the new rules could squeeze out some of the most vulnerable hopeful immigrants.

But Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the idea was a “humane and orderly way” to help eligible immigrants under a program already used to help Venezuelans and Ukrainians escaping their war-ravaged country to seek refugee here.

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“What they do is cut out the ruthless smuggling operations” that have taken migrants’ life savings, Mayorkas told reporters Thursday, without the benefit of legal residence.

The Thursday announcement did not include any kind of the sweeping immigration overhaul the administration has sought. And Biden made it clear that he was moved to act because congressional Republicans – who have used the immigration and border issues as campaign darts at the president and other Democrats – would not come to the table and work out a deal on what Biden said had long been a bipartisan matter.

“It’s clear that immigration is a political issue that extreme Republicans are always going to run on,” Biden said at the White House, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden made his point person on immigration in 2021.

“But now they have a choice. They can keep using immigration to try to score political points or they can help solve the problem. They can help solve the problem and come together to fix a broken issue,” Biden said.

Those individuals in the four countries eligible for the “parole” programs could apply through an app while still in their home countries and, if approved, use the approval on the app at a port of U.S. entry. They would not be allowed to seek entry into the United States by migrating through the region and showing up at the Mexican border.

Those who try to enter without using the parole program will not be eligible for the program in the future, Biden said.

Do not – do not just show up at the border,” Biden said, addressing immigrants. “Stay where you are and apply legally.”

The policies are meant to reduce the crush of people at the southern border. Biden said Mexico has agreed to accept up to 30,000 expelled migrants a month.

Biden will also visit El Paso, Texas, on Sunday, meeting a demand Republicans have made for years that the president witness the chaotic scene of migrants sleeping in the streets and burdening border communities and nonprofit resources.

The new policies will continue even if Title 42 – a health order from the Donald Trump era – expires, administration officials said. That order allows for the speedy expulsion of migrants at the border to stop the spread of COVID-19.The Supreme Court recently allowed the rule to stay in place pending a full hearing before the high court, and the Biden administration is arguing on behalf of lifting the rule.

Biden’s announcement is unlikely to mollify Republicans, who have been highly critical of the president’s border policies. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has gone so far as to bus migrants north – including to the entrance of Harris’ vice presidential residence. Nonprofit groups have sought to meet the bewildered migrants to provide food and shelter.

Immigration has been a constant and potent attack issue for Republicans, who have vowed to use their new majority in the House to investigate Biden’s performance on border control and to impeach Mayorkas.

The GOP’s momentum on those goals has been stalled as it struggled this week to agree on a speaker to lead their party in the chamber. The vacuum allowed Biden, who has said he intends to run for reelection but has not made a formal announcement, to take some control of the debate.

“It’s time to stop listening to their inflammatory talk. It’s time to look at their record,” Biden said of Republicans, adding that he was willing to sit down and talk to any GOPers willing to negotiate “in good faith.”

But as long as the House – which when Biden was speaking still did not have a speaker, committees or sworn-in members – declined to act, Biden said, “I’m left with only one choice: to act on my own, to do as much as I can on my own.”

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