As he attempts to close border, Biden pushes “mass amnesty” for 350,000 asylum seekers

President Joe Biden’s closure of asylum requests comes with a massive grant of relief to 350,000 asylum seekers who will have their cases closed with no resolution.

The Biden administration is implementing a program described as a “mass amnesty” for migrants, as it has quietly closed over 350,000 asylum cases since 2022 if the applicants don’t have a criminal record or are not considered a threat to the country.

Driving the news: The closed asylum cases do not result in a granted or denied status for the migrants but effectively remove them from the legal system, allowing them to roam indefinitely in the US without fear of deportation.


  • Data shows a significant increase in the number of asylum cases being closed under the Biden administration compared to previous years, raising concerns about the potential impact on public safety and national security.
  • The closed cases relieve the migrants from deportation proceedings, enabling them to explore other legal options to remain in the country, such as reapplying for asylum or seeking alternative forms of legal status.

What they’re saying: Critics, such as former immigration judge Andrew Arthur, argue that this approach provides “massive amnesty under the guise of prosecutorial discretion,” permitting individuals unauthorized to be in the US to remain there indefinitely.

  • ICE officers have reported an increase in cases of migrants committing crimes after their asylum cases have been closed, necessitating the restart of removal proceedings, which can take years to resolve.

The big picture: President Biden is preparing to sign an executive order that would shut down asylum requests at the U.S.-Mexico border if the average number of daily encounters reaches 2,500 between ports of entry. The border would only reopen once the number declines to 1,500.

  • The impact of the 2,500 figure means that the executive order could go into immediate effect because the current daily figures are higher than that.
  • The order, which is Biden’s most aggressive unilateral move yet to control the numbers at the border, is expected to be announced at an event at the White House with invited border mayors.
  • The 1,500 threshold for reopening the border for asylum seekers may be challenging to reach, as the last time the daily average dropped to that level was in July 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The White House has been informing lawmakers about the details of the planned order, but questions remain about how it will work and how much cooperation will be necessary from Mexican officials.

Go deeper: Biden’s order aims to prevent a potential spike in border encounters closer to the November elections. It adopts some policies from a bipartisan Senate border deal, including limiting asylum requests once encounters reach a certain number.

  • The order will utilize executive powers outlined in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, similar to actions taken by Trump during his presidency. Advocacy groups are preparing to challenge Biden’s order in court.
  • Democratic lawmakers and advocates are expressing concerns about the executive order, with some calling for a more comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of migration in Latin America.
  • Border mayors, including those from Texas, have been invited to the announcement event, and cooperation from Mexico will be critical for implementing the order successfully.
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