POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Biden and Trump touch down in Texas, highlighting immigration as a major election issue

Feb 29, 2024, 2:52 PM | Updated: 3:26 pm

president biden shown, he and former president trump are visiting the border in texas...

FILE - President Joe Biden arrives on Marine One in Mountain View, Calif., for a campaign fundraiser, Feb. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — President Joe Biden and likely Republican challenger Donald Trump arrived Thursday in Texas, some 300 miles apart, for dueling trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in a sign of how central immigration has become to the 2024 election and how much each man wants to use it to his advantage.

Each chose an optimal location to underscore his points.

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

“Brownsville, Texas, is a very good glimpse of how dynamic and challenging that migration phenomenon is,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said from Air Force One.

Trump, for his part, wants to keep up his dialed-up tone after harnessing rhetoric once used by Adolf Hitler to argue migrants are poisoning the blood of America.

He journeyed to Eagle Pass, roughly 325 miles northwest of Brownsville, in the corridor that’s currently seeing the largest number of crossings. Trump was to speak from a state park that has become a Republican symbol of defiance against the federal government immigration enforcement practices it mocks.

It’s split-screen moment with each candidate pressing for advantage with voters.

Among those 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 complicated reasons that include climate change, 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 act, but absent law change from Congress, any major policies are likely to be challenged or held up in court.

Trump landed to cheers from a crowd gathered at the small airport who held signs that read: “Trump 2024.” Some yelled, “Way to go, Trump.” He chatted with supporters for a few minutes before getting into his waiting SUV.

“Nice weather, a beautiful day but a very dangerous border,” he said. “We’re going to take care of it.”

From Air Force One, Mayorkas dismissed claims the president’s visit was political, and noted how badly his department that manages the U.S.-Mexico border needed extra funding that would have been contained in the collapsed bill.

“This visit is focused on the work that we do, not the rhetoric of others,” he said. “This is focused on operational needs, operational challenges and the significant impact that legislation would have in enhancing our border security.”

In a symbol of the political divide, the Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Mayorkas over the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats say the charges amount to a policy dispute, not the “high crimes and misdemeanors” laid out as a bar for impeachment in the Constitution.

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 Trump, who didn’t want to give Biden a political win on one of his signature campaign issues, convinced Republicans to kill the deal. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., declared the deal dead on arrival.

Biden vowed to make sure everyone knew why.

“Every day, between now and November, the American people are gonna know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends,” Biden said earlier this month, referring to the former president’s Make America Great Again slogan.

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 and be interviewed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity 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 in a defiant move that challenges federal authority.

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 an op-ed in the British newspaper The Daily Mail. “He created this catastrophe. ”

___

Associated Press writer Valerie Gonzalez in Brownsville, Texas and Michelle Price in New York contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

A TikTok content creator, sits outside the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, April 23, 2024....

HALELUYA HADERO AP Business Writer

Senate passes bill forcing TikTok parent company to sell or face ban, sends to Biden for signature

The Senate passed legislation that would force the parent company of TikTok to sell the social media platform under the threat of a ban.

13 hours ago

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on April 17. The Senate wi...

Morgan Rimmer and Ted Barrett, CNN

Senate passes $95 billion package sending aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of delay

The Senate on Tuesday passed a long-delayed $95 billion package after both sides of Capitol Hill have struggled for months to send aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

14 hours ago

A law passed by Utah lawmakers requires that people use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on th...

Heather Peterson

Board of Education: Districts must explain bathroom law

Explanation of a Utah law governing school bathroom use, about to take effect in Utah, will be left up to individual school districts.

15 hours ago

ftc building shown, a new rule would bar noncompete agreements for most...

CHRISTOPHER RUGABER, Associated Press

New federal rule would bar ‘noncompete’ agreements for most employees

FTC officials asserted that noncompete agreements harm workers by reducing their ability to switch jobs for higher pay.

17 hours ago

tank fires at troops in ukraine, sen mike lee is trying to kill a foreign aid bill in the senate...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Utah Sen. Mike Lee rallying Senate to kill foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel

Sen. Mike Lee has repeatedly criticized efforts to send further military and economic aid to Ukraine.

1 day ago

former president trump, hush money trial opening statement started monday...

MICHAEL R. SISAK, JENNIFER PELTZ, ERIC TUCKER and JAKE OFFENHARTZ

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

The opening statements in the hush money trial marked the first time that prosecutors have presented a criminal case against a former president to a jury.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Biden and Trump touch down in Texas, highlighting immigration as a major election issue