June 13, 2024

THE LEVIN LETTER: Biden’s Border Executive Actions Are a Step Forward, But More Must Be Done

Last month, I visited with our Border Patrol agents at the Campo Station and Jacumba in East County San Diego. While this was the most recent of several visits I’ve made to our Southern border, I’ve never seen circumstances more difficult for our agents. Conditions on the ground have been untenable.

Having seen the situation in person, it is clear that our asylum and immigration systems have been broken for some time. That’s why I joined a group of my House colleagues to call on the President to use all the tools at his disposal, including executive actions, to restore order at the border.

Heeding the call from our letter, the President last week issued a series of executive actions to strengthen border security and regulate the asylum system more efficiently. These executive actions will shut off access to asylum for those who cross the border unlawfully when illegal border crossings exceed a daily threshold. It will now be easier for agents to remove individuals without a lawful basis, all while ensuring we keep families together and crack down on those profiting from human smuggling.

These actions will help reduce the number of asylum claims and relieve the strain on our border officials and immigration court system. The changes will also allow border officials to process asylum claims more efficiently, reducing the need for street releases. While implementation won’t happen overnight, we are beginning to see signs of progress.

It was also important for the President to act, because Congressional Republicans have refused good faith negotiations with Democrats on bipartisan legislation.

Many of the changes in the President’s announcement mirror provisions that were included in a bipartisan Senate border security bill negotiated earlier this year. That bill, developed by Senators Lankford (R-OK), Sinema (I-AZ), and Murphy (D-CT), was derailed by former President Trump, who has convinced Republicans that they should oppose any border-related legislation in order to use the issue to score political points in an election year.

Ultimately, we need our immigration process to be safe, orderly, and legal. Right now, it is none of those things. We need to hire thousands of new Border Patrol agents to keep up with the challenges they face. We also need legal pathways to citizenship for immigrants who have been living in and contributing to our country for many years. We need more work permits for our “Dreamers” who came here at a young age, and we need more immigration judges to close out the backlog of cases.

The only way to achieve these initiatives is through bipartisan comprehensive immigration and border reform legislation. Many of my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – and I have been tirelessly pushing for reform.

As the grandson of Mexican immigrants on my mother’s side who came to this country searching for a better life, these issues are deeply personal. My grandparents worked hard, played by the rules, and achieved the American dream. Now, their youngest grandson is a United States Congressman.

As policymakers, it is our duty to work together to ensure legal immigration complements border security in a genuine way that improves the situation at the border in the short- and long-term.

This is fundamentally a national security issue and should be nonpartisan. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should dedicate themselves to immigration reform and delivering results for all Americans. I am committed to getting this done. In the meantime, I’ll be watching closely as the President’s executive action is implemented in the months ahead.

U.S.Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected in 2020 and 2022 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children. SC

By:  Rep. Mike Levin
Source: San Clemente Times