San Diego Officials React to Biden’s Executive Order on Immigration

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order restricting the flow of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. The EO, which took effect at midnight, bars those who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border from claiming asylum whenever daily crossings average 2,500. That average is already being exceeded, so the restrictions will immediately kick into gear.

"Despite the strengthened consequences in place at our border through the Lawful Pathways rule and the related measures that have led to record returns and removals, encounter levels are exceeding our capacity to deliver those consequences in a timely manner due to the outdated laws and limited resources we have available," said Biden, who has faced intense criticism from Republicans over his immigration policies.

Reactions to the EO have been coming in from San Diego County, which has been grappling with a surge of migrant crossings. In the last fiscal year, around 230,000 people crossed illegally from Mexico to San Diego to seek asylum. Another 220,000 people did so during the first seven months of FY 2023-24.

Here’s a round-up of some of the reactions from local officials:

"In the face of Congressional Republicans' continued inaction on legislation to help improve the situation at our southwest border, President Biden is acting decisively. The current system is failing both local communities and asylum seekers; the fact remains we need comprehensive immigration reform." — San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria

"For years, the president has told the American public that there is nothing he can do to secure our nation's border… If the president truly cared about securing the border, he would come to San Diego and see the more than 150,000 people who have been released on our streets or the 52,000 Special Interest Aliens who have crossed into San Diego. This administration's disregard for our safety and security is appalling. The reality here in San Diego is dire, and the president's empty gestures do nothing to address the ongoing crisis. We need urgent, comprehensive action, not more political theater." — San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond 

"This is nothing but a sham and an insult to those of us dealing with the real consequences of his failed border policies… The cynical part of me believes that if he were to win, that the moment he does, we're going to go back to this basically open border policy. — El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells

With five months to go before the November election, it’s natural to question the political impacts of this decision. GrassrootsLab’s Mike Madrid — author of the forthcoming book The Latino Century — says it’s a misconception that Latinos favor less restrictive border policies. He believes the EO helps the president.

“Biden's executive actions today are not only in step with the vast majority of Americans - they are in step with where Latinos are increasingly moving,” Madrid wrote on X

Whether the policy can pass legal muster is a separate question. The American Civil Liberties Union announced Tuesday that it will file a lawsuit over the president’s actions. 

Read more about the EO at CalMatters