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June 03, 2024
What A Day
Biden's Executive Order For The Border

In This Episode

  • President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order today that would severely limit the number of migrants who can claim asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. The details still aren’t totally clear, but reports say Biden’s order would cap asylum requests at an average of 2,500 a day.
  • In Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum is set to become the nation’s first female president. She won Sunday’s election in a landslide with roughly 60 percent of the vote. She’s also the hand-picked successor of the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Lorena Rios, a freelance journalist based in Monterrey, joins us to talk about Sheinbaum’s historic win and what it means for U.S.-Mexico relations.
  • And in headlines: Dr. Anthony Fauci sparred with House Republicans during a congressional hearing about the U.S. response to the pandemic, Israeli officials confirmed the deaths of four hostages in Gaza, and a Georgia court has tentatively set a date to hear former President Donald Trump’s appeal to kick Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis off his election interference case.


Show Notes:



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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, June 4th, I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson and this is What a Day, the show where we’re feeling pretty jealous of our neighbors to the south in Mexico who just made history by electing their first woman president, Claudia Sheinbaum, in a landslide. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Electing a woman president? And she’s only 61. She’s like basically a kid. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, our presidential candidates looking really crusty and dusty right about now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Woof. [music break] On today’s show, Doctor Fauci testifies before a testy Congress. Plus, the Sandy Hook families want their money from Alex Jones. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, President Biden is expected to make a major move regarding immigration today. Mayors from border towns have been invited to the White House for an event where the president will sign an executive order that would severely limit asylum requests at the US-Mexico border temporarily. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, there’s been speculation for months that Biden might do something like this, especially after Senate Republicans blocked border legislation back in February. So what do we actually know at this point ahead of the official announcement? 


Tre’vell Anderson: According to reports, they’re saying that the executive order would basically impose a numerical cap on asylum requests at the southern border. That cap will be a daily average over the course of a week of 2500. Once requests hit 2500, border crossings will close to asylum seekers, and only reopen once that number declines to 1500. Now, it’s not clear yet how all of this will work. Hopefully Biden will clarify that today, but what we do know is that daily totals at the border were a record high in December, when 10,000 migrants a day were coming into the US undocumented. And though those numbers have declined in recent months, daily totals currently exceed the 2500 cap. So if the order is signed, it would have an immediate impact and be the most restrictive border policy of Biden’s. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Correct me if I’m wrong. Some of this sounds a little familiar. This very severe restriction of the border, severe restriction of asylum. Where have I heard this before? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. So it does sound familiar. That’s because convicted felon and former President Donald Trump tried to do something similar to curtail immigration back when he was president in 2018. It was blocked by federal courts as a result of the ACLU’s lawyer, Lee Gelernt, among others. And he told The New York Times, quote, “any policy that effectively cuts off protection for desperate migrants would raise serious legal problems, as it did when the Trump administration tried to end asylum.” So, you know, Josie, we can definitely expect that there will be a legal challenge to the executive order on the horizon. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You mentioned earlier that mayors of border towns are going to be at the White House today. A number of them, as well as other elected officials of both major parties, have been vocal for some time about what they describe as a crisis at the border. So how are they reacting to the news and how are pro-immigration activists reacting to this news? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so it’s a mixed bag for sure. For example, Representative Henry Cuellar, he’s a Democrat from Texas. He told The New York Times that he supports the order because he’s been advocating for similar measures for years. But then you also have pro-immigration advocates who say Biden’s order would be antithetical to American values. Sarah Rich, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement, quote, “the decision by this administration to criminalize migrants, many of whom are fleeing harm is deeply disturbing and misguided. Prosecuting people seeking safety in the U.S. for these immigration violations will lead to more Black and Brown people being incarcerated at the expense of immigrant families and communities.” So, you know, we can definitely expect a lot more reaction once the order is actually signed later today. But of course, this is an election year and the race is tight. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Thank you for that Tre’vell. And speaking of elections, this week history was made when voters in Mexico elected the nation’s first female president, Claudia Sheinbaum. She is the hand-picked successor to the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, and he remains very popular in Mexico as his term winds down. And she won the election in a landslide, she got roughly 60% of the vote against two challengers, more than twice the second place finisher. 


[clip of Claudia Sheinbaum] Viva Presidente Lopez Obrador. Viva Mexico, viva Mexico, viva Mexico! 


[clip of unknown speaker] Y que viva Claudia Sheinbaum.


Josie Duffy Rice: To get a better sense of what Sheinbaum’s historic victory means for Mexico and for Mexico’s relations with the U.S.. I spoke with Lorena Rios. She’s a freelance journalist based in Monterrey, Mexico, and her work has appeared in The Washington Post. I started by asking her what drove Sheinbaum and her party’s landslide success in the election. 


Lorena Rios: So behind this win is, of course. President Lopez Obrador. Claudia Sheinbaum is Lopez Obrador’s handpicked successor. And she, of course, rubs off the popularity that AMLO has. I mean, he’s finishing his rule with about 80% approval rating and a few wins in the back that led to many people choosing for continuity with Sheinbaum and and the government she plans to have in this next six years. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So as you mentioned, she is AMLO’s hand-picked successor. Is she promising anything different than him? 


Lorena Rios: Not explicitly. I mean, she ran on a platform of continuity, of building, the second floor of the movement and the vision that the President Lopez Obrador has carried out during his term. But there is reason for hope from critics of Lopez Obrador, from the opposition, and from many Mexicans within the political spectrum, because Claudia Sheinbaum, I mean, she is a highly educated politician with a long career, starting in, social movements when she was a university student. She’s, an environmental engineer. So there’s hopes that she will deviate from some of the tendencies that Lopez Obrador has shown that are detrimental to the environment and favor clean energy and investment on renewables. There’s also hope that she will sort of defend the feminist causes and approach the ills of gender based violence, that that are a big problem in Mexico. And there’s also hopes that she will, deviate from the president’s move to militarize the country. That’s what critics called the president’s security strategy of relying heavily on the armed forces to address the security crisis. But in her campaign, it’s hard to tell how far she will distance herself or decide not to follow the president’s footsteps. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mexico has been struggling with an epidemic of gang violence, and six years ago, AMLO tried to take a different approach to the problem than previous Mexican presidents. He campaigned on this message of to translate to English, hugs, not bullets. But the violence continues to grow in some ways, including political violence. 34 candidates were killed during this election cycle. So how is Sheinbaum saying that she will address this issue?


Lorena Rios: Some of Mexico’s most pressing issues and and what really concerned citizens the most did not make it into the top of the presidential campaigns of the proposals. So it’s not very clear. But what Sheinbaum boasts herself is that when she was mayor of Mexico City, her administration managed to decrease homicides by 50%, so cutting them by half as well as other violent crimes. And her strategy differs from the president’s national strategy in the sense that she focused on strengthening local police forces, on increasing their wages and training, and also creating recreational centers and programs for at risk youth. So some experts hope that Claudia Sheinbaum will mimic that approach nationally, rather than continue strengthening the armed forces to carry out public safety. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And just to talk about another issue that Mexico is facing. So immigration is an issue that Mexico has been struggling with, too, just like the U.S.. Hundreds of thousands of migrants from all over the world have been forced to wait in Mexico for appointments to claim asylum in the US. Not to mention those who enter without documentation. So what is Sheinbaum saying about immigration? 


Lorena Rios: She’s saying little about immigration. Again, these hot button issues like security, like immigration, like, US-Mexico relations. She’s sort of said the bare minimum and stuck with the president’s course of action and for handling immigration, Sheinbaum has said that again, she will encourage even the U.S. to take part in addressing the root causes of migration. So by creating jobs in countries of origin. So countries in Central and South America. Uh. By providing aid or assistance because Mexico claims to be doing this in countries in Central America like um job creation programs for the youth or giving cash to migrants as incentives to go back to their home countries. We know that Mexico is doing much more than that, that it is acting as a de facto wall, for the US, and that it’s doing sort of the hard work of stopping migrants from reaching the US-Mexico border and also returning migrants to their countries, like just pushing them back across the border with Guatemala. But that’s something she hasn’t really addressed. So it will be up to the relationship she manages to have with the future president of the United States. So that’s also to be seen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So that’s what I was actually going to ask next. So what has Sheinbaum said about the prospect of having to work with Trump, who could very well win here in November. Right. And who is promising a huge crackdown on immigration in the US, bigger than last time. You know, that’s a main kind of part of his campaign. 


Lorena Rios: She hasn’t explicitly or specifically said anything about the possibility of a Trump presidency. And Lopez Obrador claims to have a good relationship with President Biden and to have had a good relationship with former President Trump. So when Claudia Sheinbaum came out to give her victory speech, she did mention that she wanted to have a friendly relationship with the United States. But so far, again, she hasn’t really given much information of what her stance would be or her take on some of Trump’s very belligerent comments in the past towards Mexico and Mexican migrants in the US. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was my conversation with Lorena Rios,  a freelance journalist based in Monterrey, Mexico. Sheinbaum will not take office until October, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the transition until then. But that is the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment, but if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and share with your friends. [music break]




Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Doctor Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before Congress on Monday as Republican lawmakers accused him of covering up where Covid originated. The hearing was called by a GOP led panel investigating the federal government’s response to the pandemic. Republicans used the hearing to criticize Fauci’s decision to recommend masks, social distancing, and vaccines in response to the pandemic. Fauci defended his leadership, saying that he had, quote, “nothing to hide.” He also became emotional when asked about the death threats he and his family have faced ever since the right began targeting him. 


[clip of Anthony Fauci] Every time someone gets up and says, I’m responsible for the death of people throughout the world, the death threats go up. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, said on Monday that four Israeli hostages in Gaza have died, according to new intelligence. The IDF said that the families of the hostages were informed that their relatives are, quote, “no longer alive” and that the circumstances of their deaths are unclear. A spokesperson for the IDF said on Monday that they believed that the hostages were killed in the Khan Yunis area quote, “during an operation there against Hamas.” Khan Younis is not too far from Rafah, where Israel is continuing its assault on the strip’s border crossing with Egypt. One of the four hostages was reported dead last month by Hamas officials, who said he was killed during an Israeli airstrike. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Georgia Court of Appeals has tentatively set an October 4th hearing in Trump’s continued pursuit to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from his election interference trial. Willis has admitted to a prior romantic relationship with the prosecutor she hired to work the case, who has recused himself. But Trump’s lawyers argue she should also be removed. The hearing is not guaranteed. There’s a chance the court will stick with its original decision to allow Willis to prosecute the case. 


Josie Duffy Rice: The families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting filed an emergency motion to liquidate Free Speech Systems, the media company owned by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He repeatedly told his audience that the shooting, which killed 20 1st graders and six educators, was a hoax. Jones filed for reorganization bankruptcy after losing two lawsuits to the families who sued him for defamation and emotional distress, and was ordered to pay $1.5 billion. On Monday, a judge told Jones he has two weeks to go about business as usual while the court decides if his assets should be liquidated. They need to liquidate those assets today. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Liquidate them all honey. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Don’t give this man two weeks to send his money, who knows where. [laughter] And those are the headlines. 




Josie Duffy Rice: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review and if you live in the District of Columbia, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota, it is primary day, so don’t forget to vote and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just court transcripts of judges yelling at Alex Jones like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


[spoken together] And pay up Infowars. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You want to talk all that talk? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. You want to talk about that,  mm hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now you got to pay out that money.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yep. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. [laughter] It’s true. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.