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Biden and Trump to host dueling border visits on migrant crisis

President Biden and former President Trump will both be at the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday to address what has become a top issue in voters' minds.
Posted at 9:56 AM, Feb 29, 2024

We are about eight months out from the general election, and while it's too early to say what will be the defining issue of 2024 for voters, at this stage it's clear that border security will be near the top.

The hot-button issue will be on full display Thursday with dueling border visits by the two leading presidential candidates.  President Joe Biden will be making his second border visit in the town of Brownsville, Texas. Some 320 miles away, former President Donald Trump will be in Eagle Pass, Texas.

So how do both presidencies compare when it comes to the issue of border security?

14 GOP governors at Texas border pressure Biden over crossings
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott

14 GOP governors at Texas border pressure Biden over crossings

President Biden and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel López Obrador, discussed joint efforts on migration in a phone call Saturday.

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Under President Biden, each year there have been more and more crossings at the southwest border. According to the Office of Homeland Security Statistics, there were around 2.46 million encounters by border patrol agents in fiscal year 2023 — up from 2.34 million encounters in 2022 and 1.7 million in 2021. 

In the four years under Trump, border encounters averaged around 572,000 per year. However, it's important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic did have an impact on the last year of data in his presidency.

Whether it's Democratic governors like Jared Polis of Colorado, or the top Republican in the House of Representatives, Speaker Mike Johnson, it seems like everybody in politics is talking about the border. But what can be done? 

Biden says he would shut down border if Congress sends him a deal
President Joe Biden speaks at the First in the Nation Celebration.

Biden says he would shut down border if Congress sends him a deal

President Joe Biden is also trying disarm GOP criticism of his handling of migration at the border as he runs for a second term in office.

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One option is a bipartisan congressional deal. But the chances of that seem to be close to zero percent until at least after the election.

Option two is for Democrats to adopt Johnson's border bill. It passed in the House last year, but Democratic Senate leadership has criticized it as too extreme.

The final option would require executive action. The White House has hinted at the possibility of that happening, but legal questions remain.

For instance, when Trump tried to limit border crossings through an executive order, he was ultimately sued and lost the case in court. President Biden faces the same legal hurdles.

With polls showing the border as a top issue on more and more voters' minds, expect more regarding this issue from leading candidates between now and November.