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Biden's action to restrict asylum is a small but positive step, some Arizona business leaders say

Border Patrol Car
Donna Burton/U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Border Patrol agents monitor the border fence line that runs through Arizona and Mexico for illegal crossings.

It’s been more than a week since President Joe Biden issued an executive action that essentially closes the border to most asylum claims — despite U.S. laws that require that access. But some southern Arizona business leaders see the move as a small but positive step.

The Arizona-Sonora border is a bustling corridor that sees billions of dollars of trade and business every year.

Luis Ramirez is an advisor who works on binational issues with business and community leaders in border areas like Nogales, Yuma and Douglas. He sees the executive order as a good step that could alleviate some of the pressure on border officers processing migrants and asylum seekers between ports of entry. But he says resource gaps remain.

"Both Border Patrol between the ports, and customs at the ports, both are in need of additional staffing, technology, equipment. At the port of entry, we’re looking at infrastructure issues and binational coordination," he said.

Ramirez says going forward, border communities and businesses want to make sure resources that make the ports of entry run smoothly — like adequate staffing, training and updated hiring procedures — are prioritized.

Under the Biden administration's executive action announced earlier this month, migrants encountered in between ports of entry are barred from applying for asylum or other forms of protection in the U.S. with few exceptions. The policy goes into effect when the number of immigrants taken into custody in between ports of entry surpasses 2,500 a day, which has been happening for months.

Last week, the ACLU and other rights groups filed suit against the protocol, arguing it defies a section of immigration law that says people presently in the U.S. can apply for asylum, regardless of how they arrived.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.
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