(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is considering unilateral executive action, including curbing asylum claims by migrants crossing the US southern border, after House Republicans balked at a bipartisan Senate immigration agreement, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Joe Biden is weighing actions including the use of so-called Section 212(f) powers used by former President Donald Trump, added the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss the deliberations. The measures and their scope are legally disputed but conservatives have been calling for Biden to attempt to employ them. 

It’s not clear whether the measures would withstand an almost certain court challenge.

The question of how to address the situation at the border has become central to one of Biden’s most pressing goals: The approval of assistance for Ukraine as its forces contend with a new Russian offensive. The House has refused to move forward on aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan without new restrictions at the border, but rejected a Senate deal that bundled those elements together.

Any step by Biden is a signal of the growing prominence of the border and migrants as an issue in the 2024 elections. Six in 10 swing-state voters say Biden bears at least some of the responsibility for a surge in migrants, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll last month found. 

The White House declined to directly comment on the reports, but called on House Speaker Mike Johnson to back the bipartisan bill, though Trump’s fierce opposition to it led it failing in the Senate.

“Congressional Republicans chose to put partisan politics ahead of our national security, rejected what border agents have said they need, and then gave themselves a two-week vacation,” White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández said in an email. 

Earlier: Biden Team Rebuffs Johnson Demand for Meeting on Ukraine, Border

“No executive action, no matter how aggressive, can deliver the significant policy reforms and additional resources Congress can provide and that Republicans rejected. We continue to call on Speaker Johnson and House Republicans to pass the bipartisan deal to secure the border,” he added.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration explores many options but that doesn’t mean it will implement them. The discussions were reported earlier by CNN and NBC News. 

Biden has been caught among competing agendas as the approaching elections become more of a concern in Washington. The Senate labored for months on a bill, only to have several Republican abruptly abandon it after Trump’s position became clear. Johnson also quickly dismissed that measure, but has not proposed an alternative that would be acceptable to Senate Democrats. 

The president has faced demands from mayors and governors, including Democrats, to do something to stem the rising number of people crossing into the US and making an asylum claim. At the same time, immigration advocates have urged Biden to stop short of some of the measures enacted by Trump.

“The Biden administration should ensure that any border security executive action protects due process for asylum seekers and provides resources for a fair, efficient and humane asylum system,” Kerri Talbot, director of an advocacy group called Immigration Hub, said in a statement. “An asylum ban would be misguided and illegal. Americans want an orderly system at the border that protects access to asylum.” 

--With assistance from Josh Wingrove.

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