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A group of migrants walk along the border in a remote part of the Arizona desert.
Lawmakers on the left and the right have criticized President Joe Biden’s new executive order on the border. Ross D. Franklin/AP

Biden Isn’t Winning Over Any Republican Lawmakers With His Asylum Crackdown

Republicans from Donald Trump to the congressional rank and file said the president is just trying to paper over “amnesty.”

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday to restrict asylum applications at the southern border — something Republicans have demanded for months. They’re furious.

“Everybody knows this is a farce,” Rep. Bob Good told NOTUS. “This is the president pretending to care about the border invasion that he has caused because it’s an election year.”

Republicans ranging from former President Donald Trump to congressional leaders accused Biden of signing the new order as a ploy to help him with his reelection. Despite unauthorized border crossings decreasing since their peak at the end of last year, the issue remains at the top of mind for voters, and Biden isn’t polling well. Republicans are clearly eager to scuttle the idea that this shows Biden is not the soft-on-the-border president they’ve been painting him as.

“Let’s be clear — Joe Biden’s Executive Order is for amnesty, not border security,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement, which was followed up by a second campaign statement and a Trump-Republican National Committee press call on Biden’s “mass amnesty.”

The order, which progressives called disappointing, was first floated in January. Biden said at the time that the administration was exploring its options to “shut down” the border. On Tuesday, he announced he will prevent migrants from seeking asylum at ports of entry if the daily crossings reach 2,500.

Rep. Jodey Arrington says the move shows that Biden has been needlessly holding back when he has the power to resolve unauthorized immigration.

“We now know he has the authority. He’s admitting it,” he said.

Republicans framed the matter as deception — they say Biden is trying to hide his record behind a new executive order months ahead of the election. Rep. Lisa McClain told NOTUS the order was “too little, too late.” Rep. Brian Babin insisted that Biden is “gaslighting” voters.

“Joe Biden is trying to convince us that he’s going to secure this border, just like he’s trying to convince us that our economy is doing excellently,” he told NOTUS.

Some Republican lawmakers were willing to give Biden some credit for the move.

“I’m not gonna bash improvements in policy, but the politics of it are really obvious,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw told NOTUS. “I don’t think voters should take that into account in November, that just because it’s an election year, he decides that he needs to solve the problem that 90% of the public wants them to solve.”

Rep. Morgan Luttrell, another Texas member, went even further.

“If an elected official makes a decision, and it’s a good decision for the country, I’ll give you credit for it,” he said. “I’m not gonna beat him up, beat them up, because they’re in a different party than I am when we’re supposed to be working together on this.”

Both Crenshaw and Luttrell said they wanted to study the fine print and see how the policy was actually implemented but were glad the president seemed willing to change.

“Hallelujah,” Luttrell said. “Finally.”

Casey Murray and Tinashe Chingarande are NOTUS reporters and Allbritton Journalism Institute fellows.