Biden tightens rules for migrants at the border with Mexico

US President Joe Biden has issued an executive order significantly tightening the rules for migrants at the border with Mexico. The measures exclude migrants who cross the border illegally from “receiving asylum,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said on Tuesday. For Biden, the safety of American families “always comes first,” he added.

With the signing of the long-awaited executive order by the 81-year-old president, authorities are now able to deport migrants who have entered the country illegally without first processing their asylum applications. The restrictions are to come into force once the number of illegal border crossings reaches 2,500 per day and will not be lifted until the number drops to 1,500.

According to government officials, the new regulation will be applied “immediately” as the number of migrants is already above this limit.

The tightened rules are among the toughest ever taken by a Democratic Party politician in the US. They are said to be based on the law that the administration of former Republican President Donald Trump used to prevent immigration from some Muslim countries.

Trump himself, however, declared on his online platform Truth Social that Biden had “completely given up” on the southern border. “Joe Biden claims he's finally doing something about the border – but in reality, that's just a facade because he knows there's going to be a debate in three weeks,” Trump wrote, referring to a televised duel between the two presumptive candidates for the presidential election on June 27.

Last month, an attempt to significantly tighten immigration laws failed in the US Congress. It was the second time this year that the plan was stopped by the Senate – even though the reforms had been jointly developed by Democrats and Republicans.

Biden and his Democrats accuse Trump and the Republicans of blocking the plans for stricter immigration laws because they want to exploit the porosity of the border for political gain. As in his previous election campaigns, Trump is relying on aggressive rhetoric against immigrants, whom he generally defames as a security threat to the USA.

Under Biden's presidency, the number of migrants entering the country irregularly across the border with Mexico has reached record highs. Last year, more than 2.4 million migrants crossed the southern U.S. border, most of them from Central America and Venezuela, fleeing violence, poverty and disasters exacerbated by climate change.

The number of border crossings peaked at a record 10,000 a day in December and has since declined significantly. Nevertheless, according to polls, migration is one of Biden's biggest challenges.

The Biden administration had previously tried to curb border crossings through better cooperation with Mexico and other countries – for example through law enforcement or economic policy.