Updated Feb 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump claims Biden has blood on his hands in dark remarks at border

Former President Trump speaks

Trump speaks in Eagle Pass, Texas, as he visits the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 29, 2024. CNN screen capture.

Former President Trump said Thursday that President Biden has "the blood of countless innocent victims" on his hands in a bleak address as both 2024 front-runners visited different border towns in Texas.

Why it matters: Polls suggest immigration is a major political vulnerability for Biden, and Trump is once again making his hardline approach a key tenet of his presidential bid.

  • In a theme he'll likely return to over the next eight months, Trump tried to paint a dark image of an America plagued by violent crime because Biden has failed to protect the border.
  • "The United States is being overrun by the 'Biden migrant crime.' It's a new form of vicious violation to our country," Trump said Thursday, claiming Biden was "destroying our country."

Reality check: Trump's claims of a "migrant crime" wave are unsubstantiated.

  • While Trump highlighted the cases of several individuals who were allegedly attacked by undocumented immigrants, multiple studies have found that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than other U.S. residents.

Driving the news: Trump is floating a plan to deport millions in the U.S. if re-elected to the White House.

  • Biden, meanwhile, blames congressional Republicans — egged on by Trump — for blowing up a bipartisan deal that would have enacted some of the most conservative immigration policies in decades.
  • But Biden is now considering hardline steps of his own to crack down on immigration, including potentially restricting the ability of migrants to claim asylum.

The big picture: Trump was speaking in Eagle Pass, Texas, which has become ground zero for the legal showdown between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and the Biden administration, Axios' Stef Kight and Hans Nichols write.

  • Thousands of migrants are apprehended daily by Border Patrol agents in the area, called the Del Rio sector.
  • A park in Eagle Pass is the subject of a lawsuit between Texas and the Biden administration after the state blocked Border Patrol from entering the area that sits along the Rio Grande.

Trump didn't just go after Biden. He repeatedly attacked California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) — whom he called "New-scum" — claiming his policies were driving more people to the border.

  • Between the lines: Newsom is already playing a key role as a Biden surrogate and Trump attack dog in the 2024 cycle.

The other side: Biden is visiting Brownsville, Texas, pushing for action from Congress and trying to counter criticism that he's soft on immigration.

  • He's meeting with U.S. Border Patrol agents, law enforcement and local leaders.

Brownsville is among the border 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, 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 Abbott authorized in a park on the banks of the Rio Grande after the city asked the state for help managing the influx of migrants.
  • Abbott has called the surge of migrants an "invasion," though some residents of Brownsville say there is no crisis.

Go deeper: Inside Trump's plans to deport millions from the U.S.

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

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