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Biden and Trump deliver different messages in person on the same day at the southern border

Biden, Trump make dueling visits to southern border
Biden, Trump make dueling visits to southern border 03:32

Washington — President Biden is visiting the southern border Thursday at the same time former President Donald Trump is also making an appearance in a different Texas border town, in a split screen emblematic of the political moment.

Mr. Biden is visiting Brownsville, Texas, where he's meeting with border patrol agents, law enforcement officials and local leaders, the White House said. In remarks in Brownsville, he called on Congress to pass the bipartisan border security deal negotiated in the Senate that Republicans rejected earlier this month after Trump opposed it. 

The president praised U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers for their efforts at the southern border but noted that they "desperately need more resources," more agents, more officers, more equipment "in order to secure our border," Mr. Biden said. "Folks, it's time to act. It's long past time to act," he added.

Mr. Biden called on Republican leaders to "show a little spine" and pass the border and national security deal that was agreed upon and then scuttled amid Trump's rejection of the agreement. The measure, which would have provided funding for more border security agents between ports of entry and add immigration judges to address the backlog of millions of cases, was "derailed by rank-and-file politics," the president said, after Republicans were told, "'Don't do that because it'll benefit the incumbent.'"

Arguing that the bill would win "the majority of Democrats and Republicans in both houses," the president called on Republicans and Democrats, including Trump, to "just get together and get it done" and "remember who we work for, for God's sake." 

President Joe Biden talks with the U.S. Border Patrol and local officials, as he looks over the southern border, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Brownsville, Texas, along the Rio Grande. Evan Vucci / AP

Meanwhile, the former president and the frontrunner for the Republican nomination is in Eagle Pass, Texas, a little more than 300 miles from the president. Trump met with Texas officials including Gov. Greg Abbott. And in his remarks at the border, Trump claimed that the U.S. is "being overrun by the Biden migrant crime," and he rattled off a list of crimes he alleged had been committed by migrants. "They're being let into our country, and it's horrible."

He brought up the murder of University of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley in his remarks. Officials say the suspect in her killing, 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra, entered the U.S. illegally from Venezuela.

Trump referred to Ibarra as the "monster illegal alien migrant released into the country" by President Biden.

The former president was also asked by a reporter about the race to be the next Senate Republican leader. "A lot of people are calling to politick me for that job," Trump said. He did not name a candidate he favored, but added that "it's all going to work out, and we're going to end up with a great leader."

Election 2024 Trump
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump talks with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. Eric Gay / AP

Mr. Biden told reporters that he's been planning the visit for Thursday, adding that "what I didn't know is my good friend is apparently going" on the same day. 

The border has become a political flashpoint in recent months amid record levels of migrant arrivals. Republicans have railed against the Biden administration for its handling of the southern border. In a rare move earlier this month, House Republicans voted to impeach Mr. Biden's chief border official, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And the GOP has repeatedly called on Mr. Biden to take executive action on immigration.

Democrats have attempted to go on offense on the immigration issue after Republicans rejected the long-sought border deal that would have marked the first comprehensive border security policy reform in Congress in decades. Congressional Democrats and the White House have pointed to the flip flopping, accusing Republicans of seeking to use the border as political fodder rather than seeking to address the issue. 

Mr. Biden's campaign, meanwhile, has called out Trump for "blocking border security."

The visit comes ahead of Mr. Biden's March 7 State of the Union address, and as the White House has been weighing whether to severely restrict access to the U.S. asylum system, sources previously told CBS News. For Mr. Biden, the visit marks his first to the southern border since a trip to El Paso in January 2023.

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