(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden’s executive action restricting asylum claims at the southern border — a dramatic move to address one of voters’ top concerns five months before the election — drew a range of reactions: applause from many Democrats but also disappointment from some progressives and scorn from Republicans who cast the action as a too-little, too-late attempt to score a political victory on an issue that has hampered Democrats.

Supportive Democrats praised Biden for acting to implement similar policies to the ones congressional Republicans blocked from moving through Congress earlier this year.


“As the president makes his announcement, let’s be very clear about one thing: legislation would have been the more effective way to go,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“President Biden has been clear from the beginning he prefers legislation, but given how obstinate Republicans have become — turning down any real opportunity for strong border legislation — the president is left with little choice but to act on his own,” Schumer said.

Congressional Republicans came out in unison against Biden’s executive action, which will limit asylum applications at times of high traffic across the southern border.


“This is like turning a garden hose on a five-alarm fire, and the American people are not fools. They know that this play is too little too late,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said.

McConnell emphasized the surge in migration and the alarming rate of fentanyl-related deaths that have occurred under the Biden administration, and said Biden’s decision to act now is an effort to save face before the election.

Biden is also facing opposition from within his own party, especially progressives who likened the president’s executive actions to policies of former President Donald Trump, which Democrats excoriated at the time.


“By reviving Trump’s asylum ban, President Biden has undermined American values and abandoned our nation’s obligations to provide people fleeing persecution, violence, and authoritarianism with an opportunity to seek refuge in the U.S.,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat, in a statement.

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, meanwhile, called the measures “extremely disappointing” in a post on X.

Democratic Rep. Nanette Barragán, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called the move by Biden a “mistake.”


“I am disappointed that this is a direction the president has decided to take. We think it needs to be paired with positive actions and protections for undocumented folks that have been here for a long time,” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union vowed legal action, arguing in a statement that the executive actions “would put thousands of lives at risk.”

“We intend to challenge this order in court. It was illegal when Trump did it, and it is no less illegal now,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in the statement.


Polls indicate Biden has struggled to earn the trust of voters when it comes to border policies. Only 30% of respondents in an ABC News/Ipsos poll last month said they trusted Biden to handle immigration at the southern border, compared to 47% who said the same of Trump.

There were signs Tuesday that Biden’s executive action could sway a key crop of voters: those who backed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the Republican primary who have been hesitant to support Trump this fall.

In a statement, the Haley Voters Working Group said Tuesday’s news was “welcome.”


“Leadership means doing the right thing, even if its late … it’s the right thing,” Amanda Stewart Sprowls, a Haley voter from Arizona, said.

Tom Evslin, a Haley voter from Vermont, said that “as president, Biden gets judged by his actions and not his words.”

“Although it would’ve been better to have congressional action on the border, Biden deserves respect for listening to voters in the political middle,” Evslin said.


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