Updated Feb 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes failed border deal in Texas visit, blasts GOP for neglecting crisis

President Joe Biden (L) speaks with US Border Patrol agents as he visits the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, on February 29, 2024.

President Biden speaks with US Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, on Feb. 29. Photo: Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images

President Biden during a rare trip to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday went on offense on immigration, slamming Republicans for squashing the bipartisan border deal and pushing them to bring it to a vote.

Why it matters: The visit to Brownsville, Texas came as the president is considering borrowing a page on immigration from former President Trump, his likely 2024 opponent, including restricting the ability of migrants to claim asylum.

What he's saying: Biden called on House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) to bring the border bill to a vote, saying it has bipartisan support.

  • "This bill was in the United States Senate, was on its way to being passed, and then was derailed by rank and file, partisan politics," he said. "The Speaker of the House needs to put this bill on the floor."
  • Addressing Trump's visit, Biden put out his signature calls for collaboration: "Instead of playing politics with the issue, why don't we just get together and get it done."

Biden met with border agencies, local law enforcement and other leaders during his trip, pleading in overall subdued remarks for them to receive more resources.

  • "They need more agents, more officers, more judges, more equipment in order to secure our border," he said. "Folks, it's time for us to move on this. We can't wait any longer."
  • He also emphasized the need for more immigration judges to help handle the backlog of cases needing processing, adding that the bipartisan deal would provide funding for 100 more immigration judges.

State of play: Biden was accompanied by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who was impeached by the GOP-led house this month over his handling of an influx of migrants across the border amid a wider global humanitarian crisis.

Catch up quick: Biden's trip underscores a shift in his campaign to more forcefully address a migrant crisis at the border, one of his biggest vulnerabilities in seeking re-election, Axios' Stef Knight and Hans Nichols write.

  • The president has faced blowback from Republicans and Democrats alike over his handling of the southern border amid a record number of border crossings.
  • Democrats are now accusing Republicans of allowing politics to block solutions to the border crisis.

Between the lines: Brownsville is among the cities with the lowest illegal crossings.

  • CBP data indicated that 76,000 apprehensions occurred in the first four months of this fiscal year. In Eagle Pass, Texas — where Trump is also scheduled to visit Thursday — Border Patrol reported 169,000 in the same time period.
  • Brownsville is also absent of the razor wire and armed guards seen in Eagle Pass, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) authorized to be placed in a park on the banks of the Rio Grande, after the city of nearly 30,000 asked the state for help managing the influx of migrants.
  • Abbott has called the surge of migrants "an invasion," though some in Brownsville say there is no crisis.

Go deeper: Split screen: Biden, Trump and two very different border trips

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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