President Joe Biden visited the southern border Thursday in Brownsville, Texas, where he delivered remarks flanked by local officials and by his recently impeached secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas

Biden made numerous claims and largely blamed Republicans for the influx of millions of illegal aliens because a compromise border security bill failed to pass the Senate. 

As the president exited after his remarks, a reporter shouted: “Mr. President, do you bear any responsibility for Laken Riley’s death?”

Riley, 22, a nursing student, was murdered last week while jogging on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, a so-called sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. A graduate of the school, she was enrolled at a nearby university.

Charged with murder in Riley’s bludgeoning death: an illegal alien from Venezuela who crossed into the U.S. in 2022 and may have benefited from the Biden administration’s mass parole policies. 

1. ‘Long Past Time to Act

Biden, with U.S. Border Patrol agents behind him, presented himself as trying hard to address illegal immigration and border issues, telling his audience in Texas: “It’s long past time to act.”

The president’s venue in Brownsville, however, no longer is a major crossing point for illegal aliens because Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, directed state law enforcement to install shipping containers and razor wire as barriers along the border there.

On the same day, meanwhile, former President Donald Trump visited Eagle Pass, Texas, about 300 miles away, where illegal aliens cross from Mexico relatively easily.

Biden insisted that Congress must act by passing the bipartisan border security deal that stalled recently in the Senate. 

“They desperately need more resources, need more agents, more officers, more equipment in order to secure our border,” Biden said. “Folks, it’s time for us to move on this. It can’t wait any longer.”

However, the president has a menu of options under his authority—just as he acted in his first 100 days and beyond to roll back the Trump administration’s border security measures. 

The Biden administration has the authority to detain, expel, and deport illegal immigrants under current federal immigration law, as well as under international agreements. 

Specifically, Biden could have used the Migrant Protection Protocols with Mexico and the Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Central American countries to keep most potential asylum claimants outside the U.S. until their claims could be heard by U.S. immigration courts, noted Simon Hankinson, a senior research fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news outlet.)

To suggest the president is dependent on Congress would be disingenuous, since Biden is familiar with taking executive action on border security and immigration policy.

Biden’s first 100 days as president offer greater context, since he took 94 separate executive actions related to immigration. 

The office of House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., counted 64 executive actions by Biden that made border security worse, such as doing away with the “Remain in Mexico” policy to adjudicate asylum claims, halting the Trump administration’s construction of a wall at the southern border, and expanding “catch and release” of illegal border crossers. 

Biden took 89 executive actions that specifically “reversed or started to undo Trump policies,” according to the Migration Policy Institute.

2. ‘My First Day as President’

Biden noted a bill that he proposed on his first day in office. 

“In my first day as president, I introduced a bill I sent to Congress, a comprehensive plan to fix the broken immigration system and fix the border. No action was taken,” Biden said.

It’s true that on Jan. 20, 2021, the White House announced that the new president was sending a “comprehensive” immigration bill to a Democrat-controlled Congress that would include some border security measures as well as a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, which critics call amnesty for lawbreakers.

Most Republican lawmakers argue that the nation must regain control of its borders from illegal aliens before moving to address the legal immigration process.

3. ‘Backlog’ of Immigration Cases

Biden talked about the immigration bill that recently failed to pass the Senate, which would add 1,500 Border Patrol agents to man the border and 100 immigration judges to adjudicate asylum cases. 

“We also need more immigration judges to help handle the backlog. There are 2 million cases,” Biden said. “This bipartisan deal would provide funding for 100 more immigration judges immediately. It would also establish a new, efficient, and fair process for the government to consider asylum claims for those arriving at our border. Today, to get a decision on an asylum claim takes five to seven years.”

Interestingly, Biden explained that the backlog could be a magnate for illegal immigrants to cross and claim asylum—knowing that it will take years before a judge hears their case. 

“We say, OK, you’ve been in the country but come back in five to seven years, maybe as many as eight years, and you’ll get a hearing before a judge to determine if you can stay,” Biden said in his remarks in Texas. “This will encourage more people to come to the country if they’ve got another five, seven, or eight years before they have to do anything.” 

However, on Feb. 2, 2021, Biden signed an executive order to eliminate the Trump administration’s agreement with Mexico known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols. 

Lora Ries, director of the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, contends that the Left has encouraged mass asylum applications, which clogs the immigration courts. She said the Justice Department hasn’t limited the number of motions and appeals, resulting in some illegal immigrants’ gaming the court system to prolong their stay in the U.S. 

4. ‘Toughest Set of Border Security Reforms’

Biden called for the Senate to take up the border security bill again after it failed to pass a procedural hurdle. If Johnson allowed the bill to come to a House floor vote, the president said, it would pass. 

“It’s the toughest set of border security reforms we have ever seen in this country,” Biden said. “Pretty basic. With this deal, we could hire 1,500 additional border security agents.”

Critics say it isn’t close to the toughest. 

The bill would put the policy of catch and release “into law,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says.

The Texas Republican argued that the 370-page bill “normalized 5,000 illegal aliens [crossing the border] a day.” 

Cruz was referring to a provision stipulating that the border would be shut down after 5,000 crossings over seven consecutive days or 8,500 in one day—a policy that would stay in place for three years. However, this provision would allow about 1,400 asylum-seekers to cross the border at official entry points every day. 

Most of the Senate’s $118 billion bill would go toward more U.S. aid for Ukraine’s defense against Russia, although it also contained aid to Israel. 

A White House “fact sheet” acknowledges that the Senate immigration bill would have provided $1.4 billion to sanctuary jurisdictions such as Athens, Georgia, which don’t enforce immigration laws. In the words of the White House, this would supply “critical services to newcomers” and “expedite work permits for people who are in the country and qualify.”

The bill also wouldn’t restore the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers. 

The legislation that failed to pass the Senate also stipulates that $2.3 billion would go to “qualified organizations, including nonprofit entities,” for what it calls “refugee and entrant assistance activities.”

This would continue the subsidizing of nongovernmental organizations that facilitate illegal aliens’ travel from a border state to other states. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would get up to $1.4 billion to distribute to nonprofit groups if certain security hiring and deportation numbers were hit.

Although “toughest” is a subjective term, it’s not clear the Senate bill is tougher than border security legislation passed by the Republican-controlled House in May 2023. That bill would increase manpower, technology, and transparency in the Department of Homeland Security, which is headed by Biden’s appointee, Mayorkas. 

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.