Biden’s First Visit to Open Southern Border
President Joe Biden walked the U.S.-Mexico border and inspected a busy port of entry after two years in office.
Biden’s trip, which lasted about four hours, comes amid criticism from Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers that he hasn’t done enough to address a surge of migrants at the southern border. From Texas, Biden departed for Mexico City for meetings with North American leaders on immigration and other issues.
Republicans blame Biden for record numbers of migrants crossing into the country.
The president encountered no migrants except when his motorcade drove alongside the border and about a dozen lined up on the Ciudad Juárez side.
Biden’s recent policy announcements on border security and his visit to the border were aimed partly at blunting the impact of upcoming investigations into immigration promised by House Republicans.
Gov. Abbott Gives Scathing Letter to Biden
As President Biden offboarded from Air Force One on Sunday, he was immediately greeted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, one of the fiercest critics of the administration’s border policies.
The brief but what appeared to be a cordial exchange between Biden and Abbott was picked up by television news cameras, but their remarks were not.
The Texas Governor handed Biden a letter dismissing his visit as a series of carefully staged photo ops and outlining five steps the administration could take to secure the border, including immediately resuming construction of the border wall in Texas.
“Your visit to our southern border with Mexico today is $20 billion too little and two years too late,” Abbott said in the letter. “Moreover, your visit avoids the sites where mass illegal immigration occurs and sidesteps the thousands of angry Texas property owners whose lives have been destroyed by your border policies.”
Abbott’s letter is below:
It appeared that Biden began to read the letter but shortly folded it up and gave Abbott a handshake, where he then turned and greeted others around him.
Video: Biden’s Visit To El Paso’s Border Wall
The president also met with border officials to discuss migration as well as the increased trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, which are driving skyrocketing numbers of overdoses in the U.S.
What Will Happen with Illegal Immigration?
Speaking to reporters later Sunday, Abbott said Biden’s border visit is “nothing but for show unless [the administration] begins to enforce the immigration laws already that exist in the United States of America that are contained in the letter that was provided to the president today.”
Abbott has done little to mask his antipathy toward Biden’s border policies that rolled back many of the hardline immigration policies of then-President Donald Trump.
“The president who caused the chaos at the border needed to be here,” Abbott said. “He needs to step up and take swift action, including reimbursing the state of Texas for the money that we’ve spent (on state border security initiatives).”
When asked what the president told him, Abbott replied, “He said he wanted to work with us.”
From Texas, Biden headed south to Mexico City, where he and the leaders of Mexico and Canada will gather on Monday and Tuesday for a North American leaders summit. Immigration is among the items on the agenda.