Trump Visits Border to Laud His Policies and Criticize Biden

Former President Donald Trump went to the southern U.S. border on Wednesday with Texas Governor Greg Abbott to criticize President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and highlight an issue he used to propel himself into the White House in 2016.

Trump’s trip comes five days after Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris went to El Paso, Texas, in the face of withering criticism from Republicans that she hadn’t been to the border in the weeks after Biden assigned her to lead U.S. efforts to curb a surge of immigration from Central America.

The former president listened to a briefing in Weslaco, Texas, by Abbott, a Republican, and other state and county officials about conditions at the border -- which they described as “dramatic,” especially with trafficking of fentanyl. Trump also toured an unfinished section of border wall and later participated in a town hall with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Hannity asked whether he’d made up his mind about running for the White House again in 2024 -- -- without him having to say what the decision was. Trump smiled and said, “Yes.” Told later that he seems ready to re-engage in politics, Trump said: “It’s not that I want to, the country needs it. We have to take care of the country.”

During his remarks earlier in the day at the briefing, Trump said “the border has never been this way.” He praised his administration’s efforts to build the border wall and curtail drug and human trafficking but also complaining about the 2020 presidential election that he falsely claims was stolen.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Biden for stopping construction on the wall and reversing many of his immigration policies, including requiring migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum requests are considered.

“All they had to do was go to the beach,” Trump said of the Biden team. “If they went to the beach and did nothing, they would have been fine.”

Last Friday, Harris visited migrant children at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in El Paso, Texas. She described the Biden administration’s approach as “thoughtful and effective.”

In El Paso, she also visited a port of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border in addition to the Border Patrol station. At each place, she received an operational briefing from Border Patrol and CBP personnel.

Trump visited the lower Rio Grande Valley, which in the last fiscal year has seen the biggest spike in migration by single adults, families and children and teenagers traveling alone, according to CBP data.

Border agents in May had more than 180,000 encounters with migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest monthly total in more than two decades according to CBP. Those numbers were fueled in large part by a pandemic-related order that allows most asylum seekers to be expelled immediately without legal proceedings, a move that resulted in many migrants making repeated attempts to enter the U.S.

Trump’s visit is part of a public re-emergence after he kept a relatively low profile in the months after leaving office on Jan. 20 and as he remains banned from social-media platforms. The former president, who restarted his campaign-style rallies last Saturday, is targeting candidates in 2022 midterm races who he deems to have been disloyal and is holding out the prospect of running again in 2024.

The trip occurred on the same day has the Trump Organization and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were charged by a Manhattan grand jury in the first cases to emerge from a multiyear investigation of the former president’s company, according to a person familiar with the matter. The charges will remain sealed until Thursday, the person said requesting not to be identified discussing confidential matters.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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