Biden and Trump to host competing events along the Texas border on Thursday

Biden and Trump to host competing events along the Texas border on Thursday

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both set to visit the southern border on Thursday, following the breakdown of congressional talks on immigration after the former president indicated his dislike of the proposed legislation.

A White House official said Mr Biden would visit the border community of Brownsville, Texas “to meet with US Border Patrol agents, law enforcement officials and local leaders” and “discuss the urgent need” for Congress to enact the bipartisan border security and foreign aid funding bill negotiated by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz), James Lankford (R-Olka) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn), calling that compromise bill “the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border in decades”.

“He will reiterate his calls for congressional Republicans to stop playing politics and to provide the funding needed for additional US Border Patrol agents, more asylum officers, fentanyl detection technology and more,” the official added.

Mr Trump will visit the border more than 300 miles away from where his successor – and likely 2024 election opponent – will be. According to CNN, the former president is set to speak in Eagle Pass, Texas, a location where migrants frequently are filmed crossing into the US to claim asylum.

Mr Biden’s visit comes just over a year after a January 2023 visit that was his first trip to the border as president, and it represents a deliberate effort by the president to lay record crossings by migrants at the feet of Mr Trump, who personally intervened to prevent GOP senators from approving the compromise bill because doing so would prevent him from attacking the 46th president for allowing too many nonwhite asylum seekers into the country.

US President Joe Biden walks along the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, on 8 January 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden walks along the US-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, on 8 January 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

Republicans, particularly Mr Trump, have long used immigration as a cudgel to attack the Biden administration – even going so far as to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, homeland security secretary, by the smallest of margins in the House – 214-213.

After Mr Trump came out against the bipartisan package, Senate Republicans voted to block consideration of it. They defended the move by arguing that Mr Biden has the executive power needed to take action on the migrant crisis, even as they have long called for Congress to hand presidents more executive authority to do the things they have demanded.

The Biden administration is evaluating putting in place measures to make it harder for migrants to pass the asylum screening process and speed up deportations of those who don’t fulfil the requirements, NBC News reported last week.

Mr Trump continued using his staunch anti-immigration rhetoric during his meandering 90-minute speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on Saturday.

The former president was speaking about his anti-Biden messaging efforts, saying that “migrant crime” is a “new category of crime”.

“I wanted to call it Biden migrant crime [but that was] just too long,” Mr Trump said on stage at CPAC. “So we just call it migrant crime.”

“We have a new category of migrant crime, and it’s going to be more severe than violent crime and crime as we know it,” he added. “Because we have millions and millions of people and they came from prisons and jails. They came from mental institutions, and [were] insane.

“So they’re not the same thing. An insane asylum is a mental institution on steroids. It’s Silence of the Lambs. Okay, you know that Hannibal Lecter? They’re all being deposited into our country,” he claimed. “And then you have terrorists and then you have drugs. And then you have human traffickers, and they’re coming over at levels never [seen] before.”

“We’ve never seen anything like this. Three years ago, we had the safest and most secure border in US history,” the former president said. “We ended catch and release except when it was catch and release in Mexico. We had catch and release in our country. We built 571 miles of border wall – far more than I said I was going to build.”

A study by Stanford economist Ran Abramitzky released last summer found that immigrants haven’t increased the crime rate in the last 140 years.

“First-generation immigrants have not been more likely to be imprisoned than people born in the United States since 1880,” Krysten Crawford at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research noted on 21 July 2023.

“Today, immigrants are 30 per cent less likely to be incarcerated than are US-born individuals who are white, the study finds,” she added at the time. “And when the analysis is expanded to include Black Americans – whose prison rates are higher than the general population – the likelihood of an immigrant being incarcerated is 60 per cent lower than of people born in the United States.”

“From Henry Cabot Lodge in the late 19th century to Donald Trump, anti-immigration politicians have repeatedly tried to link immigrants to crime, but our research confirms that this is a myth and not based on fact,” Mr Abramitzky wrote last year.