Mexico, the US, and the solutions to a migration crisis 4:27

(CNN) --

The White House is considering executive action to restrict migrants' ability to seek asylum at the US-Mexico border if they crossed illegally. Precisely, a maneuver that recalls a controversial measure by Donald Trump's Government and that will surely lead to a fierce reaction from immigration defenders and progressives.

Handling the situation at the southern border has been a critical point for Joe Biden for years, as migration levels reached record numbers and thousands of people arrived in the area.

The action the White House is considering appears to be an extension of some of the tougher measures included in an immigration bill, which Republicans ended up rejecting, as well as another sign of the Biden administration's efforts to show it is aggressive in border security matters before the 2024 elections.

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A final decision has not yet been made on the executive action, which calls for the use of a regulation known as 212f between ports of entry to try to crack down on illegal border crossings. A government official pointed out that possible measures are frequently analyzed, but that they do not always advance.

It is unclear how the order under discussion would be carried out. Nor if it would be different, and in what way, from what was enacted during the Trump Administration. Lawyers within the administration are reviewing the action, a source said.


A White House spokesman had no comment on the actions under consideration.

"The administration spent months negotiating in good faith to deliver the toughest and fairest bipartisan border security bill in decades because we need Congress to make meaningful policy reforms, and provide additional funding to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system. "White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández said in a statement.

"No executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the meaningful policy reforms and additional resources that Congress can provide and that Republicans rejected. We continue to call on President Johnson and House Republicans to approve the bipartisan deal to secure the border," he added.

Biden suggested earlier this month that he would close the U.S.-Mexico border if proposed border legislation became law, effectively endorsing one of the toughest measures included in the package.

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"If the bill were law today, it would qualify for (the border) to be closed right now while we fix it," Biden said.

Trump attempted to close the U.S. southern border to asylum seekers who cross illegally while in office, invoking provisions of immigration law, but the courts blocked these efforts.

In 2018, Trump attempted to use 212f, which gives the president broad authority to implement immigration restrictions by limiting border crossings. Ultimately, however, a federal appeals court ruled that the authority conflicts with asylum law and is not overridden by the 212f authority.

The case – known as the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant against Trump – served as an example of why the president's ability to close the border is limited. He would likely face legal challenges if the White House were to move forward.

"President Biden has broad powers under the immigration statute, but they are not unlimited. Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows the president to suspend the entry of noncitizens who are 'detrimental to the interests of the United States 'But that doesn't mean you can close the border to everyone,' Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law expert, previously told CNN.

Administration officials, facing dwindling border security funding, have also discussed whether declaring a national emergency could shore up funding, two sources said. The White House's supplemental request includes $14 billion for border security, but remains stalled in Congress.

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