Biden meets border agents at Rio Grande in Trump migration face off
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President Joe Biden met with border agents at the Rio Grande on Thursday during his visit to the southern border as Donald Trump got his own tour 324 miles away.

The president’s motorcade drove along the 20-foot fence separating the United States and Mexico before his meeting with U.S. Custom and Border Patrol agents. 

As the president was given a tour of the migrant crossing area, security was tight. A boat was in the water, trucks and ATVs surrounded the area, and a drone flew overhead. Nearby, cars flying Trump flags were parked where Biden could see them. At the airport, the president was greeted with protesters demanding a cease fire in Gaza.

Biden stood by the river, speaking to the agents, as Donald Trump, his presumed 2024 presidential rival, arrived at Eagle Pass for his own tour at the busy migrant passage area 324 miles away. 

The two men’s dueling tours played out on split screens on cable television. 

President Biden gets a tour of the border from CBP agents

President Biden gets a tour of the border from CBP agents

Biden arrived in Texas about 30 minutes after Trump. Biden is bringing his Homeland Security secretary for his meeting with border agents and local officials. Trump has Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott with him and the head of the Border Patrol Agents’ union. 

The messages of their trips are entirely different. Biden will push for House Republicans to approve a bipartisan border security bill already passed by the Senate. Trump will decry Biden’s border policies for letting in record numbers of migrants. 

Gov. Abbott, giving Trump his tour told the former president: ‘This is a port of entry. There’s no reason for these people to be crossing between a port of entry. Remember one thing, no one drowns on a bridge. They drowned trying to come across here because Joe Biden entices them if not forces them to come here.’

Their locations are also a contrast in images. Trump is in Eagle Pass, which remains a migration hot spot while crossings in Brownsville have dropped dramatically.

‘It’s good weather. Beautiful day but a very dangerous border. We’re going to take care of it,’ Trump told reporters upon his arrival. 

White House officials have defended the president, saying its House Republicans engaged in a ‘political stunt.’ 

While in Brownsville, Biden will ‘meet with U.S. Border Patrol agents, law enforcement, frontline personnel, and local leaders to discuss the urgent need to pass the Senate bipartisan border security agreement,’ a White House official said.

Biden is considering executive orders that would move to shut down the border to new arrivals if more than an average of 5,000 migrants per day tried to cross unlawfully in the course of a week, or more than 8,500 tried to cross in a day. 

President Biden was given a tour of the border at the Rio Grande

President Biden was given a tour of the border at the Rio Grande

President Biden with a security boat visible in the Rio Grande

President Biden with a security boat visible in the Rio Grande

The president is joined on his trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Rep. Vincente Gonzalez, local elected officials, as well as personnel from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The main thrust of Biden’s message will be about House Republicans’s failure to pass a bipartisan border package already approved by the Senate. Conservatives argue the legislation is not strong enough to combat illegal immigration. 

The bill included over $20 billion for border security that would add new Customs and Border Patrol agents, add more asylum officers to increase that process time, and add more immigration judges. 

Democrats accuse the GOP of election year politics. Trump, who is Biden’s likely rival in the 2024 presidential election, has come out against the legislation. 

The former president, while he is in Eagle Pass, will blast Biden on the record high number of illegal crossings and the murder of Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student. An illegal immigrant was arrested and charged with the crime.

His campaign has accused Biden of piggy-backing onto Trump’s decision to visit the border, which the White House denies. 

President Joe Biden (R) greets Brownsville Mayor John Cowen upon arrival at Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport in Brownsville, Texas

President Joe Biden (R) greets Brownsville Mayor John Cowen upon arrival at Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport in Brownsville, Texas

There was a lot of trash but no sign of migrants at Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas

There was a lot of trash but no sign of migrants at Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas

Donald Trump will be in Eagle Pass, Texas, on the same day Biden is in Brownsville, Texas

Donald Trump will be in Eagle Pass, Texas, on the same day Biden is in Brownsville, Texas

Texas National Guard talk to migrants making an illegal crossing in Eagle Pass, where there is still a lot of border traffic

Texas National Guard talk to migrants making an illegal crossing in Eagle Pass, where there is still a lot of border traffic

In Brownsville, border crossings have dropped dramatically in the past months, after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had miles of the wire fencing installed as part of Operation Lone Star, which he signed into law in December. 

Internal CBP data for all border patrol stations in February – obtained by Fox News – shows that the Brownsville area had about 462 apprehensions, which averages out to about 17 per day. 

That makes Brownsville, Texas, the 29th busiest border patrol station for the month. The number one station was Three Points in Tucson, Arizona, sector, which has recorded more than 13,900 apprehensions in February. 

Brownsville could give Biden a platform to argue illegal crossings have dropped dramatically given it was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings for nine years. 

But Republicans have called it something else: a ‘photo-op.’

Speaker Mike Johnson accused Biden of going merely for the optics.

‘Brownsville is the 29th ranked hotspot. Why would he go to the 29th? Because he doesn’t really want to see the reality,’ he said Thursday.

At a House Republican leadership news conference, many of the leaders repeatedly accused Biden of a ‘photo op.’

‘President Biden goes down to the border today for a photo op,’ Majority Leader Steve Scalise said. ‘He has the authority today to fix this problem that he created.’ 

The White House has said it’s House Republicans who are turning the border into a ‘political stunt.’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pushed back against GOP criticism of Biden’s trip, noting it was House Republicans who refused to bring up a vote on a bipartisan border security bill after Trump came out against it.

‘Oh, it’s very different. What House Republicans have done is nothing, absolutely nothing. If anything, they consistently get in the way,’ she said during her press briefing.

‘They are turning this into a political stunt by listening to Donald Trump and saying that they need to kill it. This is what they’ve been doing and making it political where the President got his team now directed his team to work with senators, both Republicans and Democrats to get a bill done.’

Members of the Texas National Guard on patrol at the border - crossings have gone down since Republican Gov. Greg Abbott installed fencing

Members of the Texas National Guard on patrol at the border – crossings have gone down since Republican Gov. Greg Abbott installed fencing

Last May, before the fencing was installed, lines of immigrants wait at Camp Monument to be processed into the country

Last May, before the fencing was installed, lines of immigrants wait at Camp Monument to be processed into the country

The border wall between Brownsville, Texas, and Mexico

The border wall between Brownsville, Texas, and Mexico

Brownsville has a predominantly Hispanic population, which, at 93.9%, is the third-highest proportion of Hispanic Americans of any city in the U.S.

It’s proximation to the border and heavy Hispanic community had made it a hot spot for illegal immigration. Also, with 200,000 people, it’s one of the larger cities in the country and able to absorb the migrant influx.

The city is also a Democratic stronghold. And it has a large bus station and airport for migrants to use to leave for other destinations.

Biden and Trump’s trips come as the immigration issue ratches to the forefront of the campaign. 

They also come a few days before the Super Tuesday primaries on March 5, when more than a dozen states hold Republican nominating contests.

Both men have railed against each other on the border issue as they try to turn it into election year fodder.

There have been record crossings of the border during Biden’s administration, a fact Trump and Republicans have hammered him on. 

And, according to a Gallup poll, immigration is the most common issue mentioned by adult voters who disapprove of Biden’s performance.

The White House has been trying to turn the narrative on the issue, blaming Trump and House Republicans for refusing to support the bipartisan Senate bill. Conservatives argue that piece of legislation didn’t go far enough.

The bill included over $20 billion for border security that would add new Customs and Border Patrol agents, add more asylum officers to increase that process time, and add more immigration judges. 

The president also has been under pressure from Democrats, including governors, mayors and senators in border states, to do more on the issue. 

His first trip to the southern border was in January 2023, when Biden spent about four hours on the ground in El Paso, Texas. 

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