In a bid to address the surge in migrant crossings, the Biden administration is set to enact an asylum ban along the U.S.-Mexico border. Effective from 12:01 a.m. ET (0401 GMT) on Wednesday, the ban aims to restrict asylum claims until migrant crossings decrease significantly, with specific thresholds triggering its implementation.

The new asylum ban grants authorities the power to swiftly deport or return migrants to Mexico if they cross the border illegally without the opportunity to seek asylum. However, these measures will only take effect when daily migrant arrests exceed 2,500 for a consecutive week, a threshold that has been surpassed consistently, with April averaging 4,300 daily arrests.

These restrictions will remain in place until daily arrests drop below 1,500 for three consecutive weeks. The last instance of crossings falling to this level occurred during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020, amid unprecedented global travel restrictions.

Contrary to perceptions, these measures do not amount to a complete border closure. While the restrictions apply to migrants crossing between ports of entry, access remains open for those seeking appointments through a designated government app. Additionally, individuals applying through parole programs or holding temporary work visas will still be permitted entry. Notably, unaccompanied minors, individuals facing serious safety threats, victims of trafficking, and legal trade and travel will remain unaffected by the ban.

While the intent behind the asylum ban is clear, operational questions remain unanswered. Implementation logistics, particularly regarding deportations to distant and uncooperative countries, pose significant challenges. Concerns have also been raised regarding Mexico’s willingness and capacity to accommodate an influx of migrants.

The legality of the asylum ban is likely to be contested in court, with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressing intent to challenge it. Similar challenges were mounted against asylum bans under the Trump administration.

The timing of these measures is significant, coinciding with the upcoming U.S. presidential elections in November. Immigration remains a contentious issue, with recent polls indicating a preference for Trump’s immigration policies. Despite a decline in border crossings attributed partially to increased enforcement by Mexico, Biden’s proclamation acknowledges persistent challenges.

Responses to the asylum ban have been divided along party lines, with Republicans criticizing Biden’s approach, labeling it politically motivated and insufficient. Conversely, Democrats have offered mixed reactions, with some denouncing the move as undermining American values, while others view it as a step in the right direction.

As the Biden administration moves forward with the asylum ban, crucial questions regarding deportation procedures and treatment of families remain unanswered. Amidst ongoing debates and legal challenges, the implications of these measures on immigration policy and border security remain subject to scrutiny and debate.