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Tags: border | immigration | biden | trump | texas | trips

Biden, Trump Each Eye Border Message in Dueling Texas Trips

Thursday, 29 February 2024 01:02 PM EST

President Joe Biden and his likely Republican challenger Donald Trump both head to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Thursday in a sign of how central immigration has become to the 2024 election and how much both candidates want to use it to their advantage.

Each has chosen an optimal location from which to underscore his respective points.

Biden, who wants to spotlight how Republicans tanked a bipartisan border security deal on Trump's orders, will go to the Rio Grande Valley city of Brownsville. For nine years, this was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings, but illegal crossings there have dropped sharply in recent months.

Trump, for his part, will continue his attacks on Biden's border policies from Eagle Pass, roughly 325 miles northwest of Brownsville, in the corridor that's currently seeing the largest number of crossings. Trump is expected to speak from a state park that has become a Republican symbol of defiance against the federal government's immigration enforcement practices.

In other words, the split screen moment couldn't possibly be more split, and each candidate is asking voters to side with his approach to immigration.

Among voters, worries about the nation’s broken immigration system are rising on both sides of the political divide, which could be especially problematic for Biden.

According to an AP-NORC poll in January, the share of voters concerned about immigration rose to 35% from 27% last year. Fifty-five percent of Republicans say the government needs to focus on immigration in 2024, while 22% of Democrats listed immigration as a priority. That’s up from 45% and 14%, respectively, from December 2022.

The number of people who are illegally crossing the U.S. border has been rising for years for reasons that include war and unrest in other nations, the economy, and cartels that see migration as a cash cow.

The administration's approach has been to pair crackdowns at the border with increasing legal pathways for migrants designed to steer people into arriving by plane with sponsors, not illegally on foot to the border.

Arrests for illegal crossings fell by half in January, but there were record highs in December. The numbers of migrants flowing across the U.S-Mexico border have far outpaced the capacity of an immigration system that has not been substantially updated in decades. Trump and Republicans claim Biden is refusing to use executive action.

Trump said in an op-ed Thursday in the Daily Mail that Biden was copying him by heading to the border, although the White House insisted the president’s trip was quietly in the works before Trump's visit was announced.

“In a last-minute trip, Biden is chasing me to the border, no doubt desperate to shirk blame for the catastrophe he has caused,” Trump wrote. “But do not be deceived. The abolition of America’s borders is Joe Biden’s policy. The mass-migration of millions of illegal aliens into the United States is Joe Biden’s plan."

Unlike Trump, Biden has made few trips to the border. Since the president was last at the border a year ago, the debate over immigration in Washington has shifted further to the right. Democrats have become increasingly eager to embrace border restrictions now that migrants are sleeping in police stations and airplane hangars in major cities.

During bipartisan talks on an immigration deal that would have toughened access for migrants, Biden himself said he'd be willing to “shut down the border” right now, should the deal pass.

The talks looked promising for a while. But House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., declared the deal dead on arrival over policies Republicans said were worse. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president would meet with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, law enforcement officials, frontline personnel and local leaders during his trip to Texas.

Trump will speak from Shelby Park, an expanse along the Rio Grande owned by the city of Eagle Pass. It was taken over last month by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who then banned Border Patrol agents from operating there. The Biden administration sued, and the U.S. Supreme Court allowed federal agents to cut the razor wire encircling the park, but Abbott has since put more up.

While there, Trump is expected to lay out updated immigration proposals that would mark a dramatic escalation of the approach he used in office and that drew alarms from civil rights activists and numerous court challenges.

Some of those include reviving and expanding his controversial travel ban, imposing "ideological screening” for migrants, terminating all work permits and cutting off funding for shelter and transportation for people who are in the country illegally. Trump also is likely to bring up the killing of a 22-year-old nursing student in Georgia. The suspect is a Venezuelan migrant.

“Biden is preposterously trying to blame me and Congressional Republicans for the national security and public safety disaster he has created,” Trump wrote in the British newspaper. “He created this catastrophe. At any point in the past three years, he could have closed the border. When I am re-elected, I will seal the border and shut down the invasion on Day One. And we will begin the process of removing Biden’s illegal aliens from our country.”

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

President Joe Biden and his likely Republican challenger Donald Trump both head to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Thursday in a sign of how central immigration has become to the 2024 election and how much both candidates want to use it to their advantage.
border, immigration, biden, trump, texas, trips
Thursday, 29 February 2024 01:02 PM
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