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On the surface, President Joe Biden’s new executive order on immigration seems to, in effect, ban all migrants who cross the border from applying for asylum – something long considered a bedrock of U.S. immigration law. But it’s a bit more complicated than it appears, explains Jean Lantz Reisz, a scholar of immigration law at the University of Southern California.

For starters, the order doesn’t apply to undocumented minors who cross the border without their parents.

“This creates the risk that desperate parents will send their children alone across the border,” writes Reisz, who explains that this trend already played out in recent years, under similar immigration policies.

While most undocumented immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border will now be swiftly deported, where will they go? Mexico has agreed to take some deported migrants, but not all, depending on their nationality. Other countries whose citizens are at risk of deportation would then need to step in and agree to assist in getting them back home.

“Still, Biden’s order may deter many migrants who plan to cross the border in the hopes of being allowed to remain in the U.S. and seek asylum,” Reisz explains.

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Amy Lieberman

Politics + Society Editor

Undocumented migrants in Jacumba, Calif., are detained by U.S. Border Patrol officers on June 4, 2024. Katie McTiernan/Anadolu via Getty Images

Biden’s immigration order won’t fix problems quickly – 4 things to know about what’s changing

Jean Lantz Reisz, University of Southern California

Biden’s executive order won’t apply to undocumented minors who enter the US alone. And the order will require the help of Mexico and other countries.


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