Trump ties himself in knots on US-Mexico border in brazen political move

Former president Donald Trump is falsely claiming to have stopped all movement between the US and Mexico in a bid to push lawmakers to scuttle a bipartisan proposal to increase President Joe Biden’s power to curb illegal crossings.

Mr Trump took to his Truth Social platform on Monday to claim that he had not needed what he described as a “big, complex Democrat-oriented Border Bill” to stop crossings between the US and Mexico during his administration.

He also said that he had “by far, the Safest Border in the History of our Country” during his time in office because he “just closed the Border” and claimed — without offering any evidence — that the people seeking asylum after surrendering to the US Border Patrol are “pouring” into the US “from jails and mental institutions located all over the World”.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Las Vegas (AP)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Las Vegas (AP)

“It is an INVASION the likes of which no Country has ever had to endure. It is not sustainable or affordable,” he wrote, adding that the situation would “only get worse” if Mr Biden were to remain in office. At the same time, Mr Trump repeated his claim that immigration and asylum reform legislation is unnecessary because he was able to implement widely-panned harsh policies during his term, such as forcibly separating parents from their children to prosecute the parents for illegal entry into the US.

The twice-impeached former president, who left office in disgrace after fomenting a coup in an effort to remain in the White House despite his 2020 election loss to Mr Biden, has come out as a vocal opponent to the Senate-led talks over a compromise bill, which would reportedly allow the president to close the border and order a halt to processing of asylum claims if more than 5,000 people per day attempt to present themselves to border patrol officers.

Republicans involved in the cross-party talks have touted the as-yet unseen compromise bill as a needed antidote to a rash of unlawful crossings, and Mr Biden has promised to sign any bipartisan immigration bill which reaches his desk.

Yet Mr Trump and his GOP allies in the House have been scheming to deep-six the border bill because it would potentially prevent him from using the entry of non-white migrants into the US as an election-year cudgel against Mr Biden, who has reversed many of the policies Mr Trump championed, such as forcing migrants to remain in squalid camps along the Mexican side of the border during the years-long period it might take to process their asylum claims.

Separately, Mr Trump claimed in another Truth Social post that the compromise bill under discussion by senators is “not necessary to stop the millions of people” from “pouring” into the US, and complained that Democrats’ who are correctly noting that he and his House GOP allies are trying to scuttle the legislation are effectively messaging on the topic to voters.

“They are using this horrific Senate Bill as a way of being able to put the BORDER DISASTER onto the shoulders of the Republicans,” he said.

The GOP flip-flop on the need for presidential authority to stem migration along the US-Mexico border has drawn fire from the White House in the form of a memo from spokesperson Andrew Bates, who on Monday informed reporters that House Speaker Mike Johnson previously pushed for the same sort of proposal he now calls “dead on arrival” in his chamber.

“In the previous administration, Speaker Johnson and Majority Leader Scalise stated that congressional action was necessary for presidents to have appropriate authority to effectively secure the border,” Mr Bates wrote, adding that Mr Johnson had “until recently ... emphasised the value for the bipartisanship he now opposes, and repeated that presidents needed new legal authority in order to secure the border”.

Mr Bates also noted that Mr Trump himself had said in 2018 that the “only long-term solution” to the immigration problems at the southern border was congressional action.

He pointed reporters to a November 2018 statement from the then-president, in which Mr Trump declared that the “only way to ensure the endurance of our nation as a sovereign country” was “for Congress to overcome open borders obstruction”.

Eight months later, in July 2019, Mr Trump called on the Democratic-led House to pass legislation “changing the loopholes” and “changing asylum”.