Remote duel at the US border: Biden and Trump are campaigning on migration

The issue of migration plays an important role in the US election campaign. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are trying to score points with parallel appearances on the border with Mexico – each in their own way.

US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump tried to score points in the election campaign on the domestically important issue of migration with separate appearances at the southern border with Mexico. Trump traveled to Eagle Pass in the state of Texas and accused Biden of total failure in migration policy there. The Republican presidential candidate said it was the Democrat’s fault that the country was being overrun by illegal immigrants. “He is destroying our country.”

Biden, in turn, admitted several hundred kilometers away in Brownsville, Texas, that the situation at the border was difficult. However, he accused Trump’s Republicans of blocking additional resources for border security in Congress – and called for cooperation from both parties.

The problems in the country

The number of people coming to the USA illegally has been high for years. During Biden’s term in office, around 2.4 million illegal border crossings were recorded for two years in a row. Thousands of people come to the USA every day, mostly from Central and Latin America, fleeing poverty and conflict in their home countries. Last December, the US Border Patrol reported more than 300,000 arrests – more than ever before in a month.

The authorities are under pressure. The justice system can hardly keep up with processing asylum applications. There is also a lack of accommodation and other resources for the newcomers. This is now also noticeable in parts of the country far from the border – among other things because Republican governors from southern states like Texas are having migrants taken in buses from the border to Democratically governed parts of the USA as an act of protest.

The political blame

The treatment of migrants has been a source of serious political dispute between Democrats and Republicans for years. In the current presidential election campaign, the issue is once again playing a particularly important role because it concerns many voters. Republicans accuse Biden of having lost control of protecting the southern border given the large number of migrants.

That was also Trump’s tenor during his visit to the border town of Eagle Pass. The 77-year-old spoke of a “Joe Biden invasion” and complained that the incumbent was letting thousands upon thousands of people into the country who would then commit crimes in the USA. “They are pouring into our country and bringing enormous problems with them,” Trump complained. “It’s terrible.” The ex-president listed individual cases of brutal crimes committed by immigrants and painted a distorted picture of an America completely taken over by brutal criminals from enemy countries. Border guards essentially have to conduct a military operation against irregular immigrants, he said. “It’s like a war.”

The Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who has been engaged in heated political and legal disputes with the federal government for months, also made serious accusations against Biden. The president is responsible for a “disaster” and has put the country in great danger. “Not a week goes by without Americans losing their lives because they are raped or attacked by someone who Biden allowed to enter our country illegally,” claimed the hardliner and Trump supporter.

Biden’s approach

The presidential election in November will result in another duel between Biden and Trump. During his term in office, Trump was particularly tough on migrants and made sealing the southern border a priority. For his possible comeback, the Republican promises that he wants to take rigorous action again and, among other things, deport people from the USA on a large scale.

Biden, in turn, initiated a change of course when he took office in 2021 and relaxed many regulations. At the time, his government gave the message to migrants: “Don’t come now – let’s fix the broken system first.” But the system was not repaired and the migrants still came. The major turnaround towards a functioning immigration policy failed to materialize.

Biden blamed the Republicans in Congress for this. During his visit to the border, he lamented: “On my first day as president, I introduced a bill in Congress that includes a comprehensive plan to fix the broken immigration system and secure the border. But nothing has been done.” Parts of the Republican Party also collapsed a deal recently concluded between a group of Democrats and Republicans to better equip the US border guard. “It’s time to act,” warned the 81-year-old. “We have to do more.”

Biden’s outstretched hand – and a reminder

The Democrat, who wants to run for a second term in the November presidential election, called for a willingness to compromise and bipartisanship. Addressing Trump, Biden said: “Instead of playing political games with the issue, we should come together and get this done.”

The mayor of the border town of Brownville, John Cowen, warmly welcomed the president, but also gave him a warning message. “All of us here are overworked and understaffed,” he said. “In Brownsville, we have assisted more than 240,000 migrants since 2021. Our population is just under 200,000.” All border towns need more help. “We can’t afford to wait.”