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Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

The Justice Department is suing Georgia over a sweeping voting law passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Friday, in a major step by the Biden administration to confront state-level ballot restrictions enacted since the 2020 election.

“The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy,” Mr. Garland said in a news conference at the Justice Department. “They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow.”

The lawsuit is among the highest-profile enforcement actions to be brought under the Voting Rights Act since the Supreme Court in 2013 gutted a key provision that allowed the Justice Department to stop states from passing laws viewed as facilitating voter discrimination.

The lawsuit shows that the Justice Department under the Biden administration intends to use the remaining tools it had to aggressively fight state actions that it sees as potentially disenfranchising minority voters. Mr. Garland vowed earlier this month that the department would deploy all of its available law enforcement options to combat voter discrimination.

The lawsuit comes days after congressional Republicans blocked the most ambitious federal voting rights legislation in a generation, dealing a blow to Democrats’ efforts to preserve voting rights. President Biden and Democratic leaders pledged to continue working to steer federal voting rights legislation into law.

“This lawsuit is the first of many steps were are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote, that all lawful votes are counted and that every voter has access to accurate information,” Mr. Garland said, calling on Congress to give the department more tools to ensure voting rights.

The Justice Department lawsuit accuses the Georgia law of effectively discriminating against nonwhite voters and seeks to show that Georgia lawmakers intended to do so.

The Georgia law ushered in a raft of new restrictions to voting access and dramatically altered the balance of power over election administration. The law followed an election that saw Georgia, a once reliably red state, turn blue for the first time in nearly 40 years in the presidential race, followed by two quick successive Senate seats flipping from Republican to Democratic.

Georgia was the epicenter of former President Donald J. Trump’s monthslong effort to overturn the election results. He seized on numerous false conspiracy theories about the Georgia election, and continued to claim that it was rife with fraud despite three separate recounts and audits — including one conducted entirely by hand — reaffirming the results.

Critics were quick to cry that the law was rooted in the former president’s falsehoods and was seeking to undo the Democratic wave in Georgia, taking aim at the state’s no excuse absentee voting provision, which had been passed by Republicans in 2005 but became the preferred method of voting for Democrats in the 2020 election amid the pandemic.

“Where we believe that the civil rights of Americans have been violated, we will not hesitate to act,” Mr. Garland said.

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan met with Senators Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, on Thursday.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

President Biden will meet with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, on Friday afternoon at the White House to discuss ways to ensure a safe future for a country increasingly under threat by a violent insurgency amid the withdrawal of American and international military troops.

Mr. Biden will use the meeting, scheduled for 3:30 p.m., to assure the Afghan leadership that the administration will continue to support the country with security assistance, as well as diplomatic and humanitarian aid, even as the Taliban advances on Afghan government forces and sends the country further into a crisis.

Mr. Biden’s decison to pull out American troops by Sept. 11 is one of the most consequential of his presidency so far, a deeply personal calculation, “from the gut,” as one official put it. And despite the worsening security situation, gloomy intelligence reports, and the likelihood the White House will face terrible images of human suffering and loss, and possible civil war, in the coming weeks and months, Mr. Biden’s message remains clear, these officials say: The U.S. military is leaving.

“It won’t be a happy conversation,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program for the Wilson Center, a think-tank in Washington. “While Kabul has accepted the fact that U.S. forces are leaving, it’s tough to swallow given that the withdrawal is playing out against an unprecedented Taliban offensive.”

In the meeting at the White House, Mr. Biden will assure Mr. Ghani with financial support, including a $266 million humanitarian assistance package and $3.3 billion in security assistance. The White House will also send three million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and oxygen supplies to Afghanistan, where efforts to help those suffering from a third wave of the coronavirus have been hampered by fighting in the area.

A small embassy security force will also stay behind in Afghanistan.

Mr. Biden is expected to press Mr. Ghani, as well as Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, to forge peace with their country’s leaders to stave off the advancing Taliban.

“One of the important messages we will be stressing is the need for the leaders to be a united front as they address security and other challenges,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre said on Thursday.

Mr. Ghani is expected to use the meeting to show that he still has financial backing from the West even without a U.S. military presence, and despite the growing talk of a decentralized Afghan government and a renewed rise of regional militias.

“It buys them a little bit of space and authority with everybody now who is jockeying and saying, ‘Can the central government protect me or do I need to completely break?” Jason Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security said. Mr. Ghani is also expected to meet Lloyd Austin, the secretary of defense, on Friday.

The meeting will also come a day after Mr. Biden said his administration would begin relocating Afghan interpreters, drivers and others under threat of retaliation from working with American forces. The Biden administration had been under increasing pressure to help the Afghan allies who have faced bureaucratic delays for special immigrant visas meant to provide them sanctuary in the United States.

Officials have said they would soon begin to move the tens of thousands of Afghans outside of the country, potentially to Guam or somewhere else with close ties to the United States.

Mr. Biden told reporters on Thursday that he would be discussing where exactly to move the Afghans while their visas are processed.

“They’re welcome here, just like anyone else who risked their lives to help us,” Mr. Biden said.

The reality on the ground in Afghanistan is turning dire.

This week, the Taliban pushed into three provincial capitals, clashing with security forces. The Taliban have taken control of more than 50 districts in Afghanistan through local mediation, military offenses and government retreats since May 1, when U.S. forces officially began their withdrawal, according to data collected by The New York Times.

Mr. Austin told a Senate Appropriations Committee last week that there was a “medium” likelihood Al Qaeda or the Islamic State could resurface in Afghanistan in the next two years, raising the prospect of a resurgence of terrorist groups in the region.

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in El Paso on Friday.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris will tour a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing center and meet with migrants when she travels to El Paso on Friday, a trip that was pulled together as Republicans criticized her for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border as part of her work addressing the surging numbers of migrants.

Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat whose district includes El Paso and who will travel with Ms. Harris, said the trip will give the vice president “a very broad perspective on the ground” and an idea of what happens when officials don’t address the root causes of migration.

“We’ve neglected to do that, and what has happened as a result is chaos and really poor management of people at our nation’s front door,” she said.

Along with Ms. Escobar, Ms. Harris is traveling with Senator Dick Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has been involved in past attempts at bipartisan immigration reform. Ms. Harris is also traveling with Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security.

The vice president will visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s El Paso Processing Center, where she will receive a briefing from officials on the “administration’s efforts to combat transnational crime,” Symone D. Sanders, the vice president’s press secretary, told reporters on Thursday evening. The vice president will also meet with migrants who are being held at the center, as well as with immigration advocates, and she will speak to reporters and take questions, Ms. Sanders said.

The trip came together quickly after Ms. Harris was criticized on her last trip to Mexico City and Guatemala, where Lester Holt of NBC grilled her about why she had not visited the border. She responded by calling the visit a “grand gesture” and pointed out that she had not visited Europe yet, either — answers that confounded her critics and members of her own administration. Ms. Escobar said that she reached out to Ms. Harris’s office shortly after the trip to pitch El Paso as a place to visit and that her request was “well received.” The trip was quickly arranged.

In El Paso, Ms. Harris will be visiting a major port of entry and a city that has complicated ties to former President Donald J. Trump, who will travel to the border with Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas days after Ms. Harris visits.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, he called El Paso “one of our nation’s most dangerous cities,” castigating it as overrun by immigrants and crime. In 2019, when 22 people were killed at a Walmart and the white suspect warned of a “Hispanic invasion,” Mr. Trump was met with protests when he visited to meet with the families of the victims.

On Wednesday, a group of House Republicans said they would join Mr. Abbott and Mr. Trump on their trip, a move intended to add more pressure on the Biden administration, which has struggled to chip away at Mr. Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies while warning migrants not to make the journey to the United States. The Biden administration has also been criticized for retaining Title 42, a Trump-era rule that allows the U.S. government to expel migrants, including asylum seekers, for public health reasons. The administration is working on its plans to phase out that rule.

Ms. Harris’s office denied that politics were at play behind her visit.

“This administration does not take their cues from Republican criticism, nor from the former president of the United States of America,” Ms. Sanders said, adding that the trip made sense for the vice president’s schedule and “our partners on the ground.”

The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has hit a record high under the Biden administration, and officials have struggled to quickly move them out of cramped facilities and into the care of family members. A surge in the apprehensions of single adults — some 121,000 last month — has offset a small decline in the number of unaccompanied minors and families traveling north, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

“Our vision is a fair, orderly and human immigration system,” Rohini Kosoglu, the vice president’s domestic policy adviser, told reporters. “We know we have more to do to rebuild, and the vice president’s work is key to our success.”

Methane flaring in Odessa, Texas. While carbon dioxide emission is considered the most damaging driver of global warming, methane, the main component of natural gas, is a close second.Credit…Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The House on Friday voted to restore federal regulations on methane, a powerful planet-warming pollutant that is emitted from leaks and flares in oil and gas wells.

The Senate voted in April to roll back the last-minute regulation that former President Donald J. Trump’s administration enacted to essentially free oil and gas companies from the need to detect and repair methane leaks at new facilities, rules the Obama administration had enacted in 2016.

Friday’s 229-191-vote means the bill now goes to the White House. President Biden has promised aggressive steps to fight climate change and is expected to sign it.

“If we’re going to be serious about combating this climate crisis, we have to take steps now to cut the amount of methane in our atmosphere,” Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado who sponsored the legislation, said on the House floor.

In addition to immediately reverting to the Obama-era rule, the law, once signed, means that the Environmental Protection Agency will begin work on new regulations that will require companies to purchase and deploy technology to detect and fix leaks at existing wells. That is expected to be a costly undertaking, particularly for smaller oil and gas companies.

While carbon dioxide emission is considered the most damaging driver of global warming, methane, the main component of natural gas, is a close second. It lingers in the atmosphere for less time than carbon dioxide but can warm the planet more than 80 times as much over a 20-year period if it escapes into the atmosphere before being burned.

Republicans argued the measure would impose unnecessary and burdensome costs on oil and gas producers and also raise energy bills for consumers. And, many noted, the oil and gas industry is divided on the issue of methane regulations.

Large companies like Shell, BP and the Exxon Mobil Corp. all opposed Mr. Trump’s rollback in 2020, noting they were working to reduce emissions. Many said they worried that if methane is not controlled it could undermine public and political support for natural gas. Small producers strongly supported the rollback, and they are particularly worried about the expected new rules.

“This will hurt America,” Representative Debbie Lesko, Republican of Arizona, said.

In reverting back to the Obama-era rules on methane, the House and Senate deployed a procedural tool known as the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to annul regulations finalized by a previous administration.

Rachel, Nev., near Area 51, in 2019. Alien visitation theories have circulated about the area, where reconnaissance programs were developed.Credit…Roger Kisby for The New York Times

Top intelligence officials are expected to release a much-anticipated report Friday on aerial phenomena witnessed by Navy pilots in recent years — a document that is likely to do little to settle a growing debate over whether it is possible that alien spacecraft have visited earth.

The report will make clear there is no affirmative evidence that the unexplained phenomenon are space aliens. But for some of the reported sightings examined over the past two decades, the military and intelligence community have no explanation.

As long as the government cannot offer a strong public explanation, alternate theories of what the pilots saw and what video recordings of their flights show are likely to persist.

The report will rule out that the Navy pilots’ sightings were not a glimpse of a classified U.S. program. While not everyone is likely to believe the assertions, secrecy experts say the more categorical the report is, the more believable it will be.

That, experts have said, leaves three other categories of explanation: a secret technology developed by an adversarial power like Russia and China, an extraterrestrial technology or more ordinary explanation of a natural phenomenon or optical illusion.

The report is being made public because of a statute provision written by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and passed by Congress as part of a massive spending bill.

The Pentagon and intelligence agencies now eschew the term U.F.O. and now refer to U.A.P., or unidentified aerial phenomena. It has been a bit of rebranding, both to cut down on public enthusiasm and remove the stigma of U.F.O. report to encourage pilots to report things that they see and scientists to study it.

But public excitement has not been dampened and scientific skepticism is likely to continue.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think that landscape is really going to change; it’s still an area where scientists mostly fear to tread,” said Chris Impey, an astronomy professor at the University of Arizona.

Since the late 1960s, most scientists and scholars have steered away from U.F.O. studies. Their reluctance has hampered the government’s ability to put conspiracy theories about aliens to rest.

Dr. Impey noted there are mundane explanations for the sightings. There are plausible, but dry, explanations for each of the Navy videos that are more likely than some sort of extraordinary technology, added Mick West, a science writer who has focused on debunking conspiracy theories.

In one video a sharp movement of the object is attributable to a shift in the camera’s movement. In another, an object that appears to be moving fast is shown to be actually moving much more slowly when a trigonometric calculation is applied. An image of a rapidly spinning object skimming over the clouds is caused by infrared glare, Mr. West said.

“If you just say, ‘Oh, it’s aliens,’ that’s actually quite a simple explanation,” Mr. West said. “The actual explanation is kind of complicated, which is why a lot of people miss it. But yet the mundane explanations exist for all of these videos.”

The release of the report, and public acknowledgment that the Pentagon and intelligence agencies cannot explain some of the videos, will likely set the stage for additional work and additional U.F.O. reports in coming in months.





Biden Touts Agreement on Infrastructure Plan

President Biden on Thursday endorsed a bipartisan infrastructure deal which includes $579 billion in new investments for roads, broadband internet and electric utilities.

For me, investment in our physical and human infrastructure are inextricably intertwined, both make us better off and stronger. The case for these investments is clear. Economists left, right and center, independent Wall Street forecasters, they all say that these kinds of public investments mean more jobs, more workers participating in the labor force, higher productivity and higher growth for our economy over the long run. Both need to get done. We need physical physical infrastructure, but we also need the human infrastructure as well. They’re a part of my overall plan. What we agreed on today is what we could agree on: the physical infrastructure. There was no agreement on the rest. We’re going to have to do that through the budget process. And we need a fairer tax system to pay for it all. I’m not going to rest until all — both get to my desk. I know there are some of my party who discourage me from seeking the agreement with our Republican colleagues, who said that we should go bigger and go alone. To them, I say this, I’ve already shown in my young presidency that I’m prepared to do whatever needs to get done to move the country forward. That’s what I did with the American Rescue Plan, which was $1.9 trillion. Let me say this. When we can find common ground, though, working across party lines, that is what I will seek to do.

Video player loadingPresident Biden on Thursday endorsed a bipartisan infrastructure deal which includes $579 billion in new investments for roads, broadband internet and electric utilities.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

President Biden struck an infrastructure deal on Thursday with a bipartisan group of senators, signing on to their plan to provide about $579 billion in new investments in roads, broadband internet, electric utilities and other projects in hopes of moving a crucial piece of his economic agenda through Congress.

“We have a deal,” Mr. Biden said outside the White House, standing beside a group of Republicans and Democrats after a meeting in the Oval Office where they outlined their proposal. “I think it’s really important we’ve all agreed that none of us got all that we wanted.”

Mr. Biden’s endorsement marked a breakthrough in his efforts to forge an infrastructure compromise, but it was far from a guarantee that the package would be enacted. Both the president and top Democrats say the plan, which constitutes a fraction of the $4 trillion economic proposal Mr. Biden has put forth, can only move together with a much larger package of spending and tax increases that Democrats are planning to try to push through Congress unilaterally, over the opposition of Republicans.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Mr. Biden said during remarks in the East Room of the White House. “It’s in tandem.”

Still, he signaled optimism about the success of the compromise, calling it a major win for his economic agenda, for America’s competitive stance against China and for democracy itself.

“This agreement signals to the world that we can function, deliver and do significant things,” he said, standing with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Mr. Biden noted that the deal includes about two-thirds of the funding that he had called for in several parts of his American Jobs Plan, in areas like clean power and environmental resilience. He also took on liberals in his party who had criticized the negotiations, casting the outcome as both a sign of what is still possible in an increasingly polarized Washington and a first step in a process that could also include a larger budget reconciliation bill that would likely pass with only Democratic votes.

“It’s hard,” Mr. Biden said of bipartisan compromise, “but it’s necessary, and it can get done.”

It’s not clear, though, that the bipartisan plan — a product of five Republicans and five Democrats — will muster the support of at least 60 senators to overcome any filibuster. And the two-track strategy promises to be a heavy lift for Democrats in a Congress where they have only the thinnest of majorities, and moderates and progressives have very different priorities.

Still, if it succeeds, the bipartisan plan would, for the first time since President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic rescue plan, pump significant federal investments into the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — not only roads, bridges, and transit, but broadband, waterways and coastlines eroding as the planet warms.

Under the plan, $312 billion would go to transportation projects, $65 billion to broadband and $55 billion to waterways. A large sum, $47 billion, is earmarked for “resilience” — a down payment on Mr. Biden’s promise to deal with the impact of climate change.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, said the package would pump around $40 billion into Internal Revenue Service enforcement to produce a net gain in tax revenues of $100 billion. A separate infrastructure finance program would leverage $20 billion in federal money to produce $180 billion in private financing on infrastructure construction.

On Thursday, Mr. Biden and the centrist senators at the White House cheered their compromise. The president, who spent more than three decades in the Senate and has staked his success on his reputation as a dealmaker, said the agreement “reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress.”

“This does represent a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, who helped spearhead the talks that led to the agreement, said at the White House.

But it would leave large swaths of the president’s economic proposals — including much of his proposed spending to combat climate change, along with investments in child care, education and other social programs — for a potential future bill that Democrats would try to pass without any Republican votes using a procedural mechanism known as reconciliation.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats signaled openness to accepting the initial details of the agreement, provided that their moderate colleagues accept a second, much larger reconciliation package.

“There ain’t no infrastructure bill without the reconciliation bill,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters on Thursday, repeating a comment she had made privately on a call with House Democratic leaders, according to two officials familiar with it.

President Biden’s two-track strategy could easily collapse before any infrastructure bills get to his desk.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure agreement contains all of the contradictions and promises of the Biden brand. It is a deal that dramatically curbs Democrats’ policy goals in the pursuit of bipartisanship, but also opens a portal to what could be the most ambitious expansion of government into the economy in decades.

It is an attempt for the president to have it both ways — compromising with Republicans in pursuit of a bold and progressive agenda — just as he promised Democratic voters he would during the 2020 primary campaign. He has negotiated a deal that satisfies moderates, while promising liberals that the agreement will not become law unless his party’s moderates also supply votes for a far more expensive companion plan.

At its core, it is a risk. Mr. Biden’s two-track strategy could easily collapse before any infrastructure bills get to his desk, leaving him empty-handed on his top domestic priority.

But White House officials also believe it was the only route for the president to secure trillions of dollars in new spending to fight climate change, increase worker pay, expand education and carry out scores of other initiatives — and that Mr. Biden is now better positioned than ever to achieve that goal.

Mr. Biden aspires to go down in history as a transformational president akin to Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon B. Johnson, on the wings of a wholesale reimagining of the federal role in the economy. He wants to guarantee four additional years of public education for students across the country, to speed a transition to low-emission energy, to provide paid leave for workers, to send ongoing checks to families in an effort to halve child poverty and to strengthen care for children, older Americans and the disabled to help ease the strain on working women. He would pile new taxes on high earners and the rich, reversing decades of attempts to stimulate the economy from the top down.

But Mr. Biden does not enjoy the large congressional majorities that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Roosevelt had. That hinders his ability to push sweeping legislation with only the backing of his party. It also emboldens his natural craving as a decades-long member of the Senate to reach across the aisle and seek compromise.

Former President Barack Obama, under whom Mr. Biden served as vice president, tried to walk a similar tightrope. Mr. Obama had campaigned on uniting the country, and he attempted to build large bipartisan coalitions to expand health care and jolt the economy out of the recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis. He ended up with bills that disappointed many progressives and failed to attract much support from Republicans.

Mr. Biden’s majorities are significantly thinner than Mr. Obama’s, and the left flank of his party in Congress is larger, louder and more liberal. Senate centrists like Joe Manchin III of West Virginia have pushed him toward compromise for months. Progressives in both chambers have pushed the president to go even further than he has proposed to reduce carbon emissions, fight poverty and expand access to health care.

The two operatives attended the Democratic Presidential Debate in Las Vegas in February 2020.Credit…Calla Kessler/The New York Times

The young couple posing in front of the faux Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas fit right in, two people in a sea of idealistic Democrats who had arrived in the city in February 2020 for a Democratic primary debate.

Large donations to the Democratic National Committee — $10,000 each — had bought Beau Maier and Sofia LaRocca tickets to the debate. During a cocktail reception beforehand, they worked the room of party officials, rainbow donkey pins affixed to their lapels.

In fact, much about them was a lie. Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca were part of an undercover operation by conservatives to infiltrate progressive groups, political campaigns and the offices of Democratic as well as moderate Republican elected officials during the 2020 election cycle, according to interviews and documents.

Using large campaign donations and cover stories, the operatives aimed to gather dirt that could sabotage the reputations of people and organizations considered threats to a hard-right agenda advanced by President Donald J. Trump.

At the center of the scheme was an unusual cast: a former British spy connected to the security contractor Erik Prince, a wealthy heiress to the Gore-Tex fortune and undercover operatives like Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca who used Wyoming as a base to insinuate themselves into the political fabric of this state and at least two others, Colorado and Arizona.

In more than two dozen interviews and a review of federal election records, The New York Times reconstructed many of the operatives’ interactions in Wyoming and other states — mapping out their associations and likely targets — and spoke to people with whom they discussed details of their spying operation. Publicly available documents in Wyoming also tied Mr. Maier and Ms. LaRocca to an address in Cody used by the former spy, Richard Seddon.

What the effort accomplished — and how much information Mr. Seddon’s operatives gathered — is unclear. Sometimes, their tactics were bumbling and amateurish. But the operation’s use of spycraft to manipulate the politics of several states over years greatly exceeds the tactics of more traditional political dirty tricks operations.

It is also a sign of how ultraconservative Republicans see a deep need to install allies in various positions at the state level to gain an advantage on the electoral map. Secretaries of state, for example, play a crucial role in certifying election results every two years, and some became targets of Mr. Trump and his allies in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Asylum seekers walking toward a Border Patrol checkpoint in March. Under a Trump-era public health rule, border agents are allowed to rapidly turn away most migrants who have arrived at the southern border during the pandemic.Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is in the later stages of planning how to phase out a Trump-era public health rule that has allowed border agents to rapidly turn away most migrants who have arrived at the southern border during the pandemic, according to two administration officials.

It is possible that, in the coming weeks, border officials could start allowing migrant families back into the country, with an eye toward lifting the rule for single adults this summer.

The plan, while still not final, is sure to ​complicate an already thorny issue for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who is visiting the border on Friday, as Republicans accuse the administration of being slow to address what they describe as an unrelenting surge of migrants trying to enter the country. Lifting the rule will only exacerbate that.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, border agents have turned away migrants nearly 850,000 times under the public health rule, known as Title 42. Migrant families have been turned away more than 80,000 times since the rule was put in place in March 2020, according to government data.

The White House has deflected questions about how much longer the rule will remain in place.

Mr. Biden, who has promised a more humane approach to immigration enforcement, decided not to continue the Trump administration’s policy of expelling children who arrived alone at the border. Single adults and many families, however, have continued to be turned away because of the public health rule, whose stated purpose is to prevent the coronavirus from spreading at points of entry or Border Patrol stations.

Still, some migrant families have been allowed into the United States because Mexico or their home countries refuse to take them back.

Plans to lift the rule have been under discussion for weeks, but there appears to be a fresh sense of urgency; officials familiar with the evolving plan shared details with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. Axios earlier reported some of the details.

For migrant families, the officials said, one idea under consideration is to put those seeking asylum into one of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s alternatives to detention. That includes having them wear ankle bracelets as their request makes its way through the immigration system, a process that can take years because of a chronic backlog of cases. The administration has already been doing this for other migrant families this year.

The administration is considering placing families who do not make asylum claims in the queue for expedited removal, a process that allows immigration officers to deport people without a hearing, a lawyer or a right of appeal in some cases.