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Trump-Biden southwest border visit illuminates different solutions to migration crisis

Biden called for a bipartisan immigration bill while Trump illuminated the increase in violence as a result of the growing migration crisis

President Biden reacts with state Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. at the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Brownsville, Texas Feb. 29,  2024
President Biden reacts with state Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. at the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Brownsville, Texas Feb. 29, 2024 | EFE

March 1, 2024 8:43am

Updated: March 1, 2024 8:43am

President Biden and former President Donald Trump both paid visits to the southwest U.S. border on Thursday in a highly anticipated scene that captivated election watchers.

The dual visit finally gave Americans to watch both men at the border, which has become a source for one of this year’s hottest election issues: immigration.

Biden thanked Custom Border Protection agents and pledged to funnel more funds to their mission, saying he would get them what they need to secure the border, “come hell or high water” while Trump focused on the impact the migration crisis has had on crime, illuminating the recent death of 22-year-old Georgia nursing student Laken Riley.

“They’re incredible people that are devastated beyond belief,” he said, referring to a conversation he had with the parents on Wednesday.

The former president said the former nursing student was “a beautiful young woman,” and said her murder was “barbaric.”

The visit was an unusual moment in the Texas desert, as thousands of residents of towns like Brownsville who often complain about feeling abandoned, had two successive American presidents giving them their full attention.

The scene revealed a different approach from both men as they both talked about problems and solutions.

Trump, who appeared in Brownsville alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, has visited the southwest border many times in the past told CBP agents, “you’re in a war … this is a military operation.” He also added that, “we have languages coming into our country that nobody speaks those languages.  

He described the current immigration crisis as a “vicious violation to our country” and a “Joe Biden invasion,” adding that the president has “the blood of countless innocent victims on his hands.”

The former president also highlighted the contrast of what was happening in the area, saying, “nice weather. Beautiful day. But a very dangerous border. We’re going to take care of it.”

For his part, it was Biden’s second visit to the border since he became commander in chief in January 2021. His first visit was in January 2023 when he visited El Paso.

The trip to the border was Biden’s second since he took office. His first was to El Paso in January 2023.

The president told a cache of reporters trailing him that the border “desperately” needs more attention and Congressional funding, insisting that “its long past time to act.”

Touting the current, proposed bipartisan border bill as a “win for the American people,” the president invited his predecessor to help him lobby Congress to pass the legislation.

“You know and I know it’s the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country’s ever seen,” Biden said. “So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don’t we just get together and get it done?”

He also called on House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to put the bill on the floor and for the Senate to “set politics aside” and reconsider the legislation.

“We need to act,” Biden said, suggesting that Republicans in Congress needed to “show a little spine” and risk alienating some of their conservative base by compromising.

Trump's national press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, dismissed Biden’s assessment of the Republican Party and said his administration needed to take responsibility for their policies.

"Instead of shifting the blame on everyone but himself, Joe Biden should take responsibility for the border crisis, deaths, and destruction that his policies have caused, say Laken Riley’s name, and use his executive power to shut the border down today," she said in a statement.

Leavitt’s statement mirrors a new trend picking up steam among conservatives throughout the nation who are now heralding Riley’s death as a call to action to stop illegal immigration to halt the violent crime that comes with it.

ADN recently reported how Venezuela’s exodus has resulted in an increase in recent violent crime incidents, and that several U.S. metropolitan police departments have warned their ranks about the Tren de Aragua, a transnational criminal gang from the South American country whose members embed themselves among well-meaning migrants with the nefarious aim of spreading their illegal operations across the United States.

Members of the gang have recently been identified as being responsible for two separate incidents in the Times Square shopping district of Manhattan and are alleged to be responsible for the murder of a former police officer in Miami.

The Venezuelan migrant crisis has become so significant that it has been used as a bargaining chip by the Maduro regime to compel the U.S. to ease sanctions. ADN reported on Feb. 23 that the South American country reneged on its deal and halted all deportation flights from the U.S. and Mexico.

While Biden’s Brownsville visit was hailed as a sign of his commitment to fixing the border, his Republican critics say the trip is too little, too late and that the recent Tren de Aragua shootings are evidence of growing crime wave spurred by illegal border crossings.

Immigration hawks have also pointed out that there is now a spike of illegal border crossings in other locations such as Eagle Pass and Arizona.

ADN recently reported that northern border penetrations between Canada and New York have skyrocketed 240% since last year, and separately that migrant ‘travel companies’ have enhanced their strategies to guide foreigners through the Darien Gap jungle that bridges Colombia to Panama, with the aim of infiltrating the U.S. perimeter.

While Biden focused his comments on passing bipartisan legislation, Trump assessed the president’s visit as a political move strategically set a week before the State of the Union address.

“Well, we found out how to get him off his ass. It took me announcing that I’m going down to the border,” he mused on a radio show earlier this week.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Trump’s visit to the border had nothing to do with the president’s decision to go.

“We just can’t all of a sudden put something on the president’s schedule,” Jean-Pierre said when asked by a reporter about the issue. “It takes time to do that.”

When Biden was elected, he signed executive orders rolling back some Trump-era policies, justifying the move as more “humane.”

The following year in 2022, the president terminated the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico,” rule which forced asylum-seekers to wait on the other side of the border while their claims were under review. 

But that move—and others—did not stop the migrant influx once the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were sunset.

Instead, a wave of immigrants from South and Central America started crossing the southern border.

The U.S. Border Patrol reported 1,659,206 encounters with migrants at the southwest border in the 2021 fiscal year, breaking the records of 1,615,844 in 1986 during the Reagan era and 1,643,679 in 2000 before President Bill Clinton left office.

While Biden has attributed the influx to a variety of reasons, Trump has told the American public to focus on the White House’s immigration policies.

The influx has raised an outcry from city officials including Democratic mayors in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has resorted to lining his border with state troopers and national guardsmen.

Democratic metropolitan mayors and Abbott have also come into crossfire with one another since the Texas governor began busing migrants to sanctuary cities.

Those cities, especially Chicago, Denver, and New York have faced unprecedented costs to care for tens of thousands of migrants who continue coming.

he White House says the problem can be solved by passing its proposed border bill, which would have included $1.4 billion for cities and states while guaranteeing work permits for some migrants so they can earn an income and become less reliant on government funding.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.