Joe Biden

Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on Additional Actions to Secure the Border

June 04, 2024

Via Teleconference

9:03 A.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining our embargoed background press call regarding additional actions the President is announcing today to secure our border. As a reminder, the call will begin with remarks that will be attributable to "senior administration officials" and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

The contents of the call and the related materials you all should have received over email are embargoed until 12:00 p.m. noon today.

With that, we will go ahead and get started. And I will turn it over to [senior administration official].

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good morning, everyone.

Since his first day in office, President Biden has called on Congress to secure our border and address our broken immigration system. And over the past three years, Congress has failed to act.

Just last month, congressional Republicans again put partisan politics ahead of our national security and voted against a historic bipartisan border security agreement that would deliver key policy changes and critical resources to our border.

With Congress failing to act, illegal crossings at our border remain too high for our system to effectively manage.

In the face of this, President Biden will announce executive actions to bar migrants who cross our Southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum.

These actions will be in effect when high levels of encounters at the Southern border exceed our ability to deliver timely consequences, as is the case today. They will make it easier for immigration officials to remove those who are here unlawfully and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents.

These actions build on weeks and months of actions the Biden-Harris administration has taken to secure our border and fix our broken immigration system.

Over the past months we have expanded efforts to dismantle human smuggling operations that bring migrants through Central America and across our Southern border, including by deploying additional prosecutors and support staff to increase immigration-related prosecutions in crucial border U.S. attorney's offices.

We've published a proposed rule to ensure that migrants who pose a public safety or national security risk are removed as quickly in the process as possible rather than remaining in prolonged detention prior to removal.

We announced the launch of a Recent Arrivals Docket to more quickly resolve a portion of immigration cases for migrants who attempt to cross between ports of entry, allowing us to more quickly remove individuals who do not have a legal basis to be in the United States and grant protection to those with a valid claim.

We have revoked visas for CEOs and government officials throughout the region who profit from migrants trying to come to the United States unlawfully.

We have surged agents to the Southern border and are referring a record number people into expedited removal. Since May 2023, we have removed or returned more people than every fiscal year since 2010.

I will turn it over to [senior administration official] in a minute to further explain today's actions, but let me finish with this: Everyone should be clear that all of the actions that I've just described cannot achieve the same result as the bipartisan security agreement that congressional Republicans rejected. These actions do not provide the additional critical personnel and funding or reforms needed to further secure our border. Congress still must act.

With that, I'll turn it over to [senior administration official].

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you, [senior administration official].

Today, the administration is taking decisive action designed to strengthen the security of our Southern border and reduce unlawful migration by suspending the entry of individuals across the Southern border.

The measures we're announcing today build on the steps we've taken over the last three years designed to reduce irregular migration and bolster the security of our border, including record deployments of personnel, infrastructure, and technology; strengthened consequences through the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways Rule; and, of course, the historic expansion of lawful pathways for migrants who are willing to wait and use them.

Today's announcement includes a series of measures that will significantly increase consequences for those who cross the Southern border unlawfully or without authorization. And I'm going to go through those consequences right now.

As everybody knows, this -- President Biden is issuing a presidential proclamation that will temporarily suspend the entry of non-citizens across the Southern border. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General are jointly issuing an interim final rule that, consistent with the proclamation, will generally restrict asylum eligibility during periods of elevated order encounters. For those who cross the Southern border unlawfully or without authorization, and that includes both our Southwest land border as well as our Southern coastal borders.

The rule makes three key changes to current processing under Title 8 immigration authorities during these periods of high order encounters. First, individuals who cross the Southern border unlawfully or without authorization will generally be ineligible for asylum, absent exceptionally compelling circumstances, unless they are excepted by the proclamation.

Second, noncitizens who cross the Southern border and are processed for expedited removal while the proclamation is in effect will only be referred for a credible fear screening with an asylum officer if they manifest or express a fear of return to their country or country of removal, a fear of persecution or torture, or an intention to apply for asylum.

Third, the United States will continue to adhere to its international obligations and commitments by screening individuals who are found to be ineligible for asylum for withholding of removal and Convention Against Torture protections at a reasonable probability of persecution or torture standard -- a new, substantially higher standard than is currently being applied at the border.

Like the proclamation, the rule provides for an end to these enhanced measures following a sustained reduction in encounters along our Southern border. Specifically, these measures will be in effect until 14 calendar days after the Secretary determines that there has been a seven-consecutive-calendar-day average of less than 1,500 encounters in between ports of entry along our Southern border. These measures would once again go into effect or continue when there has been a determination that the seven-consecutive-calendar-day average has exceeded 2,500 encounters or more.

While active, the proclamation and the rule will apply, again, across the Southern border, which, as I mentioned earlier, includes both the Southwest land border and our Southern coastal borders.

Taken together, these measures will significantly increase the speed and the scope of consequences for those who cross unlawfully or without authorization and allow the departments to more quickly remove individuals who do not establish a legal basis to remain in the United States.

As I mentioned, there are some exceptions to the proclamation, and that includes lawful permanent residents, unaccompanied children, victims of a severe form of trafficking, those who face an acute medical emergency or an imminent and extreme threat to life and safety, and other noncitizens who have a valid visa or some other lawful permission to enter the United States.

And importantly, the suspension and limitation on entry and rule will not apply to individuals who use a safe and orderly process, such as the CBP One mobile application, to enter the United States at a port of entry in an orderly manner or who pursue another lawful pathway to come to the United States.

Individuals who are subject to the limit on asylum eligibility promulgated by today's rule and who do not establish a reasonable probability of persecution or torture in their country of removal will be promptly removed and they will be subject to at least a five-year bar to reentry and potential criminal prosecution.

These steps will strengthen the asylum system, preventing it from being overwhelmed and backed up by those who do not have legitimate claims.

I'd like to conclude by reiterating what [senior administration official] said. The presidential proclamation together with the interim final rule present another important step in our more than three years of ongoing efforts to strengthen our ability to impose consequences on those who cross our Southern border.

But we are clear-eyed that today's executive actions are no substitute for Congress taking up and passing the tough but fair bipartisan Senate bill, which would have significantly strengthened the consequences in place at the border and, equally important, have provided billions of dollars to support the men and women who are working on the frontlines to secure our border.

Thank you. And with that, I'll pass the microphone to [senior administration official].

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you so much, [senior administration official], and good morning, everyone.

It's been 27 years since Congress last passed comprehensive immigration reform. The 1996 immigration reform law and, for that matter, the 1986 immigration reform law were overwhelmingly bipartisan.

Indeed, the party of Lincoln, Reagan, and the Bushes has a proud history of supporting a balanced approach to immigration.

President Reagan proudly noted that, quote, "We ne- -- we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our strength from every country and corner of the world."

We are witnessing the largest wave of global migration since World War Two. It is affecting nations around the globe. Unfortunately, at a moment when we desperately need to summon the bipartisanship in Congress that was there in '86 and '96, the party of Lincoln, Reagan, and Bush has been replaced by all too many Republicans who would rather weaponize problems than fix them.

Fortunately, across the country, there are elected officials -- Republicans, Democrats, and independents -- who share President Biden's strongly held belief that we must have smart, balanced approaches to immigration that recognize that we are indeed a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

As Pres- -- as the President announces his executive actions, he will, in fact, be accompanied by a number of these elected officials who share his desire to fix our broken system.

Most of the people joining us today are from the border. They're working on these issues day in and day out. And like the President, they want balanced solutions.

Let's take a step back. As [senior administration official] and [senior administration official] have outlined, the President worked with a bipartisan group of senators to reach a historic border security agreement -- an agreement that would have delivered significant policy changes, resources, and personnel necessary to secure our border and make our country safer. And that would have made the asylum process fairer and more efficient while ensuring protection for the most vulnerable.

Congressional Republicans had an opportunity to support the fairest and toughest set of reforms in decades, and they chose to put partisan political interests ahead of fixing our immigration system and securing our borders.

Twice they voted against additional border and immigration personnel. Twice they voted against additional technology to catch illicit fentanyl at ports of entry. Twice they voted against more asylum officers and immigration judges so cases can be resolved in months and not years.

Congressional Republicans have proven that they do not care about securing our border because, frankly, if they did, they would have supported the bipartisan agreement.

As [senior administration official] and [senior administration official] have outlined, today's actions are designed to bar individuals who cross the Southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum. It is important to note that unlike the previous administration, the Biden-Harris administration has led the largest expansion of lawful immigration pathways in decades.

This includes innovative programs, such as the parole processes for Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan nationals; the use of CBP One for noncitizens seeking to present at a port of entry; the establishment of Safe Mobility Offices across the hemisphere where people seeking assistance can be placed into a lawful immigration pathway without having to make the perilous journey, without having to pay smugglers. These programs remain in place.

We have also rebuilt our Refugee Admissions Program and are on track to resettle the most people in 30 years.

The President also spearheaded an effort to bring together 22 countries from across the Western Hemisphere to join the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection. This is an effort to foster regional cooperation around migration and a way for countries to work together to manage this challenge.

We will continue, for instance, to work together with the Mexican authorities during the presidential transition. We have worked very closely on this bilateral relationship.

All of these policies are in stark contrast to how the previous administration managed immigration. They demonized immigrants, instituted mass raids, separated families at the border, and put kids in cages. Their violation -- their policies went against our values as a nation.

The American people have told what they want. They want a secure border and lawful immigration opportunities for those to come to America who will indeed enrich our country, as President Reagan so eloquently noted.

President Biden remains committed to working to fix our broken immigration system and ensuring that America can continue to be the beacon of hope and opportunity that it is and will always be.

With that, I'll turn it back over to [moderator] for Q&A.

MODERATOR: Thank you, [senior administration official] and [senior administration official] and [senior administration official].

With that, we will begin Q&A. As a reminder, this will also be on background and attributable to "senior administration officials."

As you, I think, all can see, there is lots of interest. So, if you could please, please keep your questions to one per outlet, we will try to go through as many questions as we can.

With that, we will start with Sara. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hey, it's actually Camilo. I'm using Sara -- my colleague's account. But my question is: Can you explain whether you will plan to process extra-continental migrants, like Chinese migrants, under the new measures and, if so, whether Mexico has agreed to take back additional nationalities, like migrants who are deemed to be ineligible for asylum under these new measures? Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi, Camilo. The rules measures will apply to any individual who is encountered crossing unlawfully along the southern border or without authorization. And so, that will apply both to individuals from our hemisphere as well as extra-hemispheric migrants.

In terms of returns to Mexico, we will continue to return nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela per our previous arrangement. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thanks, [senior administration official]. We will go to Luke next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hey, guys. Thanks for doing this. What do you say to the advocacy community that has said they will sue if this EO, as we had reported in the past couple of days, is implemented, which it obviously is now? What do you say to them? And how would you defend this EO in court, given some of the past EOs in prior administrations still being held up in court?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for your question, Luke. We have made some important humanitarian and legal changes to the implementation of this authority in the past. And we fully expect that we will be able to implement these actions. This is -- the humanitarian exceptions were outlined in [senior administration official's] remarks. And we have important exceptions for individuals entering through lawful pathways, important humanitarian exceptions for individuals that are facing -- I'm sorry, that are entering through lawful pathways and under other humanitarian exceptions in the implementation of the rule in the proclamation.

And I will also invite my colleague from DOJ to say a few remarks if she would like to.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [senior administration official]. I'll just add that DOJ defends lawsuits, rules, and actions on a regular basis, and we are prepared for any litigation on this rule as well.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And if I may add one thing. I think we are accustomed to being litigated, frankly, from both sides of the political spectrum for just about any measure we take in this space, and that is just yet another sign that there is no lasting solution to the challenges we are facing without Congress doing its job.

MODERATOR: Thank you, [senior administration official]. We will go to Gabe next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hey there, Angelo. Thank you. Thank you all for doing this.

With regards to the humanitarian exceptions that you -- that you outline, what do you say to critics who say that that will lead to child trafficking, specifically the exception for minors?

And then one other -- one other question, if I may. Can you confirm just how you arrived at that 2,500 number? And would this go into effect immediately since we're now over 2,500 encounters?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi. In terms of the exception for unaccompanied children, I would just note that under our laws, we have been treating unaccompanied children differently now for many years. And, you know, that will not change as a result of these measures. And obviously, we are always vigilant when it comes to any exploitation of children, who are -- obviously represent a very vulnerable demographic.

[Senior administration official], I don't know if you want to take the second part of that question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We do expect that the authority would be in effect immediately. And I will also add to [senior administration official's] response that this administration, President Biden has led an historic opening of lawful pathways for individuals to -- and including families -- to enter the United States through a lawful process, including the CBP One mobile application to request an appointment to present at a port of entry, as well as family reunification programs in countries throughout the region and a historic parole process for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans.

And so, this measure is -- the authorities that are -- that are being implemented that we're announcing today come alongside those lawful pathways.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We will go to Seung Min next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: All right. Thank you so much for holding this call. I just wanted to -- since you guys are talking about using Title 8 authority, can you just outline just how fast the deportations would happen, how long these people would be detained before they're removed? If they would be detained, do you have the money to even do the detentions? And also, how you deal with the legal constraints of detaining families?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, I can start us off.

I will say that, obviously, the measures we are announcing today fall squarely within our Title 8 authorities. Individuals who do not manifest a fear will be immediately removable. And so, we anticipate that will significantly speed the current process for individuals who do not manifest a fear.

Individuals who do manifest a fear will be processed as we always do under our Title 8 authorities through the expedited removal process. And we have made significant process improvements over the last year that have, you know, allowed us to move people through the expedited removal process faster than we've ever been able to before.

However, as [senior administration official] and I both noted in our opening remarks, we are constrained by the resources that have been provided to the departments by Congress, resources that have been inadequate to face the challenges we have been facing the last few years.

We have repeatedly asked Congress for emergency supplemental funding to allow us to enhance and increase our ability to deliver consequences at the border. And, unfortunately, Congress has failed to act on those requests.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We will go to Josh next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hey, there. Thank you so much for doing this. Just to follow up on Seung Min's question, are these removals -- are we talking days or weeks? Can you just help us get a sense of how quickly that would kick in?

And you mentioned the changes to the credible fear threshold. I'm wondering if you can just dive into that a little bit more, how you're going to assess these cases and who goes through a screening and who doesn't. Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. Again, individuals who do not manifest a fear will be immediately removable, and we anticipate that we will be removing those individuals in a matter of days, if not hours.

I think individuals who do manifest a fear and are ineligible for asylum as a result of the rules measures will be screened for our international obligations under withholding of removal and the Convention Against Torture at a "reasonable probability" standard, which will be a substantially higher standard than the "significant possibility" standard that is being used today, while still somewhat below the ultimate merits standard of "more likely than not."

But I think the bottom line is that the standard will be significantly higher. And so, we do anticipate that fewer individuals will be screened in as a result.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We will go to Michelle next. You should be unmuted now.

Michelle?

All right. We will move to Ted. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hi, all. I'd like to ask you again about the extra-continental migrants. It wasn't clear to me: Is Mexico planning to accept them back? Or are you planning to deport them to their home countries? And if so, you know, how do you plan to do that?

I mean, as you describe it, it sounds like -- almost like a two-track system where Mexicans and Central Americans could be quickly removed but where others potentially could just be released into the U.S.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. Thanks for that question. Extra-hemispheric migrants have always been a challenge. They will be subject to this rules provisions. We have been working tirelessly both in the region and throughout the world to enhance -- to both restrict the routes into the hemisphere for extra-hemispheric migrants -- and [senior administration official] mentioned some of those steps in her remarks -- and we've also been working with governments all over the world to enhance our ability to repatriate individuals to countries that have historically been challenging.

We have, for example, operated repatriation flights to India, to China, to Uzbekistan, to Mauritania, to Senegal over the last few months. And those are all countries that historically would have been much more challenging for us to return individuals to. And we anticipate we will continue to enhance our ability to return migrants to the eastern hemisphere.

And so, we do think that the rules measures will allow us to impose an immediate and fast consequence to migrants no matter what country they're coming from.

MODERATOR: Thanks, [senior administration official]. We will go to Beatrice next. You should be unmuted now.

Bea?

Okay. We will go to Priscilla next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hi, all. Thanks for doing the call. Just to delve a little deeper into how you will operationalize this, how -- how do you foresee the situation changing along the border now versus a few days ago when this goes into effect?

In other words, if we are seeing extra-continental migrants, how will it ease the -- the system the way that you all have described?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, Priscilla. I can start, and, [senior administration official], please feel free to jump in.

We have seen consistently over the last few years that when we have the ability to remove individuals quickly, it can significantly impact migratory flows by changing the calculus for intending migrants. Especially if they know that they are going to be removed quickly and not be able to remain in the United States for many years through their immigration court process, they're going to be much less likely to pay the thousands of dollars that it's required to the smuggling networks that more or less control access to the routes leading up to our border.

And so, we do anticipate and intend that the measures we're announcing today will impact on lawful migration to our border.

As I noted, there are countries that are more challenging in terms of removals. We are working with those countries in order to facilitate our ability to increase removals. And as I also noted, we will continue to return nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela to Mexico per -- as we have been doing now for quite a while. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We will go to Pedro next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Thanks for doing this. I wanted to find out if the rule is going to be taking effect today or tomorrow, and if there is any public hearing that might hold the application of the rule. Thank you so much, again.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. The rule will go into effect later today. And so, that -- you know, we anticipate, again, those measures will be implemented forthwith.

Defer to my colleague from the Department of Justice in terms of any potential litigation.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, [senior administration official]. While the rule may be challenged, as was the case with the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways regulation, we look forward to defending the IFR as the -- as any litigation that might be filed progresses in the next few days.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We will go to Alexandra next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Hello. Thank you so much for doing this. So, the first question I have is, I want to know if -- and you said that you are going to continue collaborating with Mexico. I wanted to know if Mexico has agreed to take in more migrants daily and then what that number is they -- people who have -- they have agreed to take in.

And then, the second question I have is: What do you have to say about criticism of this type of measures from organizations that claim that this puts migrants in danger and then also could lead to people who have legitimate claim of asylums being deported back to their countries but they might face danger? Thank you so much.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi, Alexandra. Mexico has been a really strong partner in our efforts to control migratory flows throughout the hemisphere and also in our efforts to expand access to lawful pathways and to address the root causes of migration throughout the hemisphere.

At this point, you know, we will continue, as I have noted a couple times, to return nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to Mexico as we have been doing for quite a long time. And obviously, we will continue to repatriate Mexican nationals to Mexico as well.

In terms of the second part of your question, welcome others to weigh in as well. But I will just say that we are confident that the steps we are taking today are consistent with our obligations under international law, and we will take all the appropriate measures in order to guard against the potential (inaudible). Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thanks. We will go to Stef next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Thanks for holding this. We've spoken to officials and obviously see that the border numbers have actually been declining, have remained relatively stable over the past few months. Curious if you would be able to provide any insight into why this is being rolled out now.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm happy to take that. Thank you for the question. So, as you're tracking, two weeks ago, Republicans in Congress once again voted against the toughest enforcement reforms in history. Time and again, they've stood against securing our border and put politics over providing our border personnel the resources they need.

With Congress failing to act and in the face of the summer months, when we typically see encounters increase, we -- the -- and at a time when unlawful crossings at our border are still too high for immigration officials to manage, President Biden is announcing these measures today to secure our border.

And if Congress refuses to act or congressional Republicans refuse to act, the President is prepared to do so.

MODERATOR: Thanks. We will go to Zolan next. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Thanks so much for the question. Just one clarification. Maybe I missed this. I -- someone asked this earlier, but I don't think it was answered directly. Just can you explain the reasoning behind the trigger of 2,500 daily average encounters? I think there was conversation that might have been 4,000 before. I guess, how would you respond to the criticism that that number is -- was essentially found so that you can just shut it down now, you know, with the level of crossings where they are now?

And then, secondly, can you just comment on the criticism that this echoes a Trump administration effort in 2018 to use 212(f) to shut down the border. The President obviously criticized Trump during the campaign and said that he was one of the first presidents to force migrants to apply for asylum in other countries. It seems like this is similar. Thanks.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. The triggers are similar to what was negotiated by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate bipartisan bill. The goal here is to secure our border while preserving legal immigration, consistent with our values as a nation. And even if the numbers dip below 1,500, we will still be enforcing our immigration laws and removing those that don't have a lawful basis to be here.

And to your second question -- and I'll invite [senior administration official] here to jump in as well -- there are several differences between the actions that we are taking today and Trump-era policies. The Trump administration attacked almost every facet of the immigration system and did so in a shameful and inhumane way, in ways that [senior administration official] outlined in his opening remarks.

The actions that we are taking today will only apply during times of high encounters. The proclamation would only apply to individuals entering the U.S. unlawfully at ports of entry and between ports of entry while exempting lawful entries through appointments -- through appointments at ports of entry. And other exceptions include unaccompanied children, victims of trafficking.

The action will not ban people based on their religion. It will not separate kids from their mothers. There are also narrow humanitarian exceptions to the bar on asylum, including for those facing an acute medical emergency or an imminent and extreme threat to life or safety. And the Trump administration's actions did not include these exceptions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, let me follow up on [senior administration official's] accurate statement. I mean, the Biden administration has now reunited roughly 800 families who were separated under the Trump administration. We will not separate children from their families. It is not only inhumane, it's grossly ineffective. It didn't stop the flows at all. So, it was illegal, unconscionable, and ineffective.

Again, the humanitarian exceptions that [senior administration official] referenced for unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking are very real. And, again, it's important for folks to understand that this President has done more to create lawful pathways for people entering this country than any president in decades.

Thirty thousand people a month are coming in through the CHNV program. The -- 1,400 people a day are coming in through the CBP One app. No previous administration has applied technology in this manner to facilitate such a predictable and orderly process.

The President has used diplomacy in ways that have been remarkable. You know, the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection was a declaration with 22 governments. We understand that we have to work in concert with our allies in the region and around the globe who share our values.

And so, there are a lot of differences between where we are today and -- and Donald Trump.

And what is as frustrating as anything for President Biden is it doesn't have to be this way. I mentioned in my remarks about the fact that it's been 27 years since we had immigration reform. I'll point out for folks that the 1996 bill was passed in the middle of a presidential election in a divided Congress. At that point in time, people understood that immigration shouldn't become a political football, that we should put country over party.

The reason we don't have the bipartisan bill today is very simple: Because the other administration -- the prior administration's person said, "Don't do it. Don't give Joe Biden a victory." That's not how we should run a country.

And so, that is unfortunate. And an election year should not prohibit us from getting the people's work done.

MODERATOR: Thanks, [senior administration official]. We'll have time for about two more questions.

With that, Nick, you should be unmuted now. Nick? (Inaudible.)

Q: Can you hear me? I'm here, I'm here, I'm here.

MODERATOR: Yep. There you go.

Q: Sorry about that. You guys have said many times that families aren't exempt from consequences, but this administration doesn't obviously refer families to ERO detention. So, how do you plan to remove the families who are going to be ineligible under this rule? Are you going to -- are you going to hold them in CBP custody? And what is the appropriate amount of time that a family unit should remain in CBP custody, given your obligations under the Flores settlement?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hey, I can take that. Hi, Nick. We have been removing families consistently now for many years, and that will not change as a result of these measures. If anything, I think this will enhance, as I noted, our ability to remove individuals who we encounter quickly, and that includes families.

We have, as I think you know, been removing families directly from CBP custody. And we have also been removing record numbers of family from the interior who are referred to our Family Expedited Removal Management process as well.

And so, you know, we anticipate that this rule, as we have discussed, will enhance our ability to impose consequences both for single adults and for families. And we will do this in a way that is fully compliant with our obligations under the Flores settlement.

MODERATOR: Thanks. And our last question will go to Cristina. You should be unmuted now.

Q: Yeah, hi. Thank you for taking my question. I just want to see if you can walk me through what the process would be if somebody from Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador gets to the border, says that they're fearing for their lives. Who interviews them? How long would it take to determine if they're legitimate or not? And how long would it take before they get either deported or allowed to continue with the process?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure. I think, under your scenario, when we encounter an individual at the border under the rule's implementation, you know, they will be processed as we typically process individuals. And we will fingerprint them. We will make sure that there are no national security or public safety threats that we are aware of about that individual.

If the individual does not manifest a fear, they will be very quickly removable. If they do manifest a fear, they will be referred to a credible fear interview by an asylum officer. Those interviews could happen both in CBP custody or in an ICE detention facility.

During those interviews, if the individual, again, is subject to the proclamation, the rule, which means they are ineligible for asylum -- they have not been excepted from the rule -- they will be screened for our international obligations under withholding of removal and the Convention Against Torture at the reasonable probability standard, which is higher than the reasonable possibility standard that is currently being applied at the border.

Individuals who are found not to have a credible fear of persecution or torture in their home country or their country of removal as a result of that screening will be removed as quickly as we can effectuate that removal.

As I noted earlier, we have undertaken a series of process enhancements over the last two years that have significantly reduced the amount of time it takes us to get someone through that expedited removal, credible fear process.

Historically, from 2014 to 2019, it took about nine weeks to get someone through that process. And we are currently doing it in less than half that time and continue -- and we'll continue to try to streamline the process. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. And that is all the time we have today. Thank you so much for co- -- thank you so much for calling and for joining the call.

As a reminder, the embargo on the call and the materials that you will receive will be 12:00 p.m. Eastern. Thank you so much.

9:46 A.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on Additional Actions to Secure the Border Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/372555

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