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Biden and Trump expected to make dueling appearances at the Texas-Mexico border

By Uriel J. García, The Texas Tribune

Biden and Trump expected to make dueling appearances at the Texas-Mexico border” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are expected to visit different Texas-Mexico border cities on Thursday in dueling trips that will put immigration squarely at the center of their near-certain rematch in this year’s election.

Biden will be in the Rio Grande Valley city of Brownsville, where large migrant encampments have been a frequent sight on the other side of the border in Matamoros, Mexico. Trump, meanwhile, was reported to be headed to Eagle Pass, the current epicenter of immigration enforcement efforts by Texas officials, who for the past few months have been locked in a tense standoff with the federal government.

While news outlets reported that Trump would visit Eagle Pass, as of late Wednesday he had not publicly released details of his appearance.

In Brownsville, Biden “will discuss the urgent need to pass the Senate bipartisan border security agreement, the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border in decades,” the White House said in a statement. “He will reiterate his calls for Congressional Republicans to stop playing politics and to provide the funding needed for additional U.S. Border Patrol agents, more asylum officers, fentanyl detection technology and more.”

Trump’s campaign derided Biden’s visit as “chasing us to the border.” A campaign spokesperson said Biden’s trip “shows just how big of a problem this is for him.”

The expected visits come after a bipartisan immigration bill in the U.S. Senate failed to get any traction after Trump told Republicans not to vote for it so that he could campaign on the issue. The bill proposed to overhaul the asylum system to provide quicker answers to migrants and allow presidents to order immediate deportation of migrants at the border when immigration agents get overwhelmed.

Trump has said that immigration enforcement will be among his priorities if he wins back the presidency in November. During his presidency, his administration rolled out a series of policies aimed to prevent people from seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border and deter migrants from crossing the border illegally.

His policies included the emergency health order known as Title 42, which immigration officials used to immediately turn away people at the border without allowing them to request asylum; the “remain in Mexico” program that forced some migrants with pending asylum cases to wait in Mexico before their cases were adjudicated; and a “zero tolerance policy” to criminally charge adults who illegally crossed the border, which required Border Patrol agents to separate children from their parents.

The federal government also built 55 miles of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border after Trump promised in campaign rallies to build a “big, beautiful wall.”

The Biden administration slowly reversed some of Trump’s policies, such as the use of Title 42, and scrapped the “remain in Mexico” program. It also created and expanded programs that help some immigrants to enter the country legally. For example, last year it announced a program that allows 30,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to legally migrate to the U.S. each month, as long as they have a financial sponsor in the U.S. It also expanded a 2014 program that allows children in Central America to legally reunite with family members already in the U.S.

Trump and other Republican leaders have characterized Biden’s actions on immigration as open-border policies — that’s a frequent refrain by Gov. Greg Abbott, who picked up where Trump left off and has flooded the border with state troopers, National Guard and spent state money to build barriers and deploy concertina wire.

The Biden administration has angered some of its supporters by implementing policies that also make it more challenging for migrants to enter the U.S. legally.

In early 2023, the Biden administration began requiring asylum-seekers to use the CBP One cellphone application to seek one of 1,400 daily appointments to request asylum at a port of entry. The administration also implemented a rule last year that disqualifies migrants from receiving asylum if they entered the country illegally (Under U.S. law, migrants have a right to apply for asylum regardless of how they enter the country.)

“In fact, virtually every measure of border enforcement currently is, or has at various points been, at a level that is higher than when Biden came into office — often higher than at any point under the Trump administration,” David J. Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank, wrote in a recent report.

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