Dueling Visits Show Biden’s Border Crisis Is The Defining Issue Of 2024

The current president and the once, and likely future president visited the U.S.-Mexico border today — but they said and saw very different things.

President Joe Biden visited Brownsville, Texas near the Gulf Coast on Feb. 29, which is oddly appropriate, as Biden’s correct policy prescriptions are about as rare as leap days, a day that occurs once in 1,461 days.

For Biden, Brownsville is all about the optics. It’s the quietest of border sectors, Trump might even call it, “Sleepy,” with no illegal encounters recorded on Monday and only 34 in the first three days of this week.

See? The border is secure! Don’t believe your lying eyes…

But journey 350 miles up the Rio Grande River to Eagle Pass, where President Donald Trump is making a stop, and a different picture will present itself. There, 1,273 illegal immigrants were encountered in the three days of Feb. 25-27 — that we know of.

Even so, Eagle Pass, and the entire Texas-Mexico border, is a success story, showing the hollowness of Biden’s argument that he needs Congress to pass new legislation legalizing vastly larger flows of legal immigration to somehow control illegal crossings, human trafficking, and deadly fentanyl. These are the plagues multiplied on America by Biden’s Inauguration Day reversals of Donald Trump’s successful policies. Here, illegal immigrant encounters were down in all five Texas sectors in January 2024 compared to the year before, ranging from a drop of 70% in the Big Bend sector to 32.7% in Laredo.

Meanwhile, California and Arizona, with Democrats in the governors’ mansions, have seen a massive 55% increase in illegal traffic from January 2023 to January 2024 — illegal crossings reduced in Texas simply shifted west with an overall decline along the southern border of just 4%.

How did this shift occur? The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) conducted a Biden border crisis wargame six weeks before Biden was inaugurated that predicted the shift west. We calculated that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, after thoroughly exploring the options available to his sovereign state, would redouble his efforts to secure the border. As a result, Mexico’s criminal cartels — at their core, business operations — would shift their illegal commerce to the west where it would be more welcome.

This shows that border security measures, including walls, buoys in the Rio Grande, and concertina wire, work.

Of course, the open borders caucus hates measures to stop illegal immigration. The Biden administration has sued Texas to take down the wire and pull in the buoys — both measures that have reduced illegal traffic and saved lives on both sides of the border — the lives of would-be crossers who are told to either not cross or to walk over the river on a bridge, and the lives of Americans otherwise lost to drug poisoning.

TPPF played a role in defending Texas’ right to defend its borders, as co-counsel with Texas in the fence-cutting case and as amicus curiae for some two dozen Congressmen in the buoys case. Of note, as Biden’s approval on the border plummeted — it’s now the No. 1 issue in the nation — the administration has yet to remove any of Texas’ wire barriers.

But the Biden administration did sue Texas in January over a new law, SB4, that would allow local law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants for trespassing, giving them the option of arrest or returning across the border. In response, a federal judge blocked the law on Feb. 29.

As if the stakes on the border weren’t high enough, outgoing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO for short, directly threatened the U.S. with election interference, suggesting that, unless Republicans make nice to the Mexican cartels, he’d tell the Mexican diaspora and other Hispanics in America to vote against Republicans.

This, as the costs of illegal immigration to the state of Texas add up to at least $4.5 billion annually, of which $2.2 billion is for Operation Lone Star, about $2 billion for public education, and a quarter billion for prisons, jails, and public assistance. This cost does not include the deaths and injuries visited on Texans by reckless border smuggling operations as well as the property damage counted in destroyed fences, gates, and lost cattle and destroyed crops.

The fundamental problem with Biden and the Beltway’s status quo approach to Mexico is that they treat Mexico as an equal partner operating with honest intentions. Unfortunately, today’s Mexico is a corrupt amalgam of government and criminal cartel where it’s impossible to know where one ends the other begins. This is why Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed in principle last December to AMLO’s demands that the U.S. ease sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba, provide $20 billion in additional foreign aid to Latin America, and increase work permits.

President Trump, on the other hand, dealt with Mexico from a position of strength, threatening trade unless Mexico agreed to implement the successful Remain in Mexico program and other measures to curtail pervasive asylum fraud.

The Biden border crisis looks to be the defining issue of the 2024 campaign. At this point, only the Mexican cartels — and paradoxically, Texas’ efforts to secure its own portion of the border — can save Biden from defeat.

Chuck DeVore is Chief National Initiatives officer at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He served in the California State Assembly and is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Retired Reserve. He’s the author of “Crisis of the House Never United.”

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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