Elon Musk has visited the US-Mexico border where he claimed the level of illegal migration was causing cities such as New York to “buckle”.
Inserting himself directly into the controversy over the scale of immigration into the United States – an issue that has left President Biden on the back foot – Mr Musk on Thursday visited Eagle Pass, Texas, where thousands of migrants have crossed in recent days.
The billionaire streamed his visit live to his followers on X, formerly Twitter, and insisted that he was “pro-immigrant”.
“I believe that we need a greatly expanded legal immigration system, and that we should let anyone in the country who is hardworking and honest, and will be a contributor,” Mr Musk said.
“By the same token, we should also not be allowing people in the country if they’re breaking the law, that doesn’t make sense.
“I think we want to do both things - smooth out legal immigration and stop a flow of people that is of such magnitude that is actually leading to a collapse of social services, where even America’s largest city, New York, is buckling under the pressure of just how many illegal immigrants are there.”
At Eagle Pass discussing the border crisis https://t.co/Gt30ifvvFk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 28, 2023
Mr Musk, the richest man in the world, had vowed to make a visit as media reports showed hundreds of migrants trying to cross the Rio Grande river, with mothers pushing children under razor-wire fences with just some sheets of cardboard to protect their bodies.
At one point in his livestream, Mr Musk pointed his camera towards a large group of people, presumably migrants, sitting on the ground while they waited for processing by immigration officials.
The Tesla chief executive, 52, was accompanied on the visit by local congressman Tony Gonzales, a Republican, who said: “I really appreciate Elon coming down and giving an unfiltered depiction of what’s happening on the border.”
He added: “We feel very abandoned. And there’s some solutions. A big part of this is being able to share stories that no one hears about.”
Earlier this week, Mr Musk said he supported the building of a border wall, something that earned him support from Donald Trump. Others asked why the SpaceX founder was getting involved in such a starkly political issue.
“We actually do need a wall, and we need to require people to have some shred of evidence to claim asylum to enter, as everyone is doing that,” Mr Musk said. “It’s a hack that you can literally Google to know exactly what to say!”
The town of Eagle Pass has seen as many as 8,000 migrants crossing a day, according to official data. In August, more than 232,000 migrants made their way over the US-Mexico border.
While numbers of migrants dropped after the government said it would deport those who did not make an appointment with a US official, numbers have surged in recent weeks, with many of the arrivals fleeing Venezuela.
Mr Trump and other Republicans have sought to make the issue of the southern border a centrepiece of their campaigns for the GOP presidential nomination.