Border visits cue first real battle of presidential race

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

If Campaign 2020 was the COVID election, the 2024 general is shaping up to be one centered on border security and immigration. It’s a reality not lost on former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, who staged competing appearances in Texas at the U.S.-Mexico line Thursday. 

The visits – Biden in Brownsville and Trump in Eagle Pass – were certainly in keeping with the dominant rhetorical approach of the two men. Biden tried to cast himself as a bridge-builder beset by stubborn conservatives while Trump, and others with whom he shared a lectern, leaned into the underlying anger a portion of Americans harbor about the mass of humanity entering the nation daily. 

Laken Riley, the late nurse who was murdered in Georgia, allegedly by an illegal migrant, factored heavily in Trump’s remarks. The former president described speaking with Riley’s family. 

“The parents are devastated and they’re incredible people,” Trump said following a tour of the border. “This is a Joe Biden invasion. I call him Crooked Joe because he’s crooked and he’s a terrible president, the worst president our country has ever had, probably the most incompetent president we’ve ever had. But it’s allowing thousands and thousands of people to come in from China, Iran, Yemen, the Congo, Syria and a lot of other nations.”

Trump also called Biden incompetent and accused the current president of having made a mess of what Trump said had been the “most secure border in history” while allowing in “entire columns of fighting-aged men.”

Biden, by contrast, called upon Trump to join him in solving the problem. 

“It’s real simple, it’s time to act, it is long past time to act,” Biden said. “It’s time for us to move on this, we can’t wait any longer.”

And, according to Biden, the proper way forward would be for Trump to advocate for the passage of the long-stalled border security bill, a congressional act that has been rejected by the more conservative wing of Senate and House Republicans. 

“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?”

It’s an open secret in the Beltway that Trump was pivotal in killing the border bill and it is unlikely he will change his stance. He is all too willing to portray Biden as foundering in the face of a crisis that only recently became the most important issue for American voters. 

Indeed, Trump’s appearance at the border was the centerpiece of a much larger effort to capitalize on Biden’s abysmal record at the border. The Trump campaign released a series of memes that blasted Biden or celebrated Trump.

Trump also penned an op-ed for England’s Daily Mail, which ran on Thursday.

“When I was president, when illegal aliens trespassed across our border, they were captured, detained, and deported,” Trump wrote. “When Joe Biden came into office, he willfully and deliberately obliterated every strong border policy I put into place, and launched the largest border invasion in American history.”

Before Trump arrived in Texas, Karoline Leavitt, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, sent out a strongly worded press statement that read, “Today, President Trump will visit the crime scene at Biden’s open border, where Joe Biden’s failure has resulted in more than 9 million illegal immigrants, 27 tons of deadly fentanyl, and dangerous criminals crossing the border since he took office. President Trump will meet with brave US Border Patrol agents and state and local law enforcement officials working on the frontlines of Biden’s crisis, and he will outline his plan to put America first and secure the border immediately upon taking office.”

But, in a rare occurrence, neither Trump nor even a member of Team Trump took the unofficial prize for the most forceful statement of the day. That achievement was logged by National Border Patrol Council (NBCP) President Brandon Judd, who appeared alongside Trump in Eagle Pass. 

When Trump offered to allow Judd to speak, the union head minced no words. 

“Sir, I want you to know your agents, my agents, they’re mad as h*** — absolutely mad that President Biden went to Brownsville, Texas, rather than going to Arizona, rather than going to San Diego, California, rather than coming to Eagle Pass, Texas, which has been the epicenter,” Judd said.

He added, “Your agents … they are p****d. Border patrol agents are upset that we cannot get the proper policy that is necessary to protect human life, to protect American citizens, to protect the people that are crossing the border illegally. We can’t do that because President Biden’s policies continue to invite people to cross here.”