As the southwest border continues to experience a surge in migrant crossings, former President Donald Trump visited an unfinished portion of the border wall in Weslaco, Texas, accusing his successor of “destroying our country.”
Earlier this month, Trump announced that he was planning to visit “the nation’s decimated southern border.” Two weeks after the former president’s plans to visit the border were made public, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that “President Trump will join me and law enforcement officials for a border security briefing in Weslaco.”
Upon taking office, President Joe Biden halted construction of the border wall and abolished the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, which required those seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated. Critics cite those decisions as the cause of the surge in illegal border crossings. Data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows that the number of encounters between migrants and law enforcement officials has exceeded 100,000 and has continuously increased, reaching 180,034 in May.
The number of border crossings in May marked a slight increase from the number of immigrants who illegally entered the country in April (178,854) and a substantial increase from the number of crossings in May 2020 (23,237). In all of fiscal year 2020, there were 458,088 encounters between migrants and law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2021, that number has already reached 929,868, even with four months to go.
Trump and Abbott made remarks in front of a partially completed border wall in the border town of Weslaco, located near McAllen. They were joined by more than two dozen Republican members of Congress. At the event, Trump bluntly proclaimed that “Biden is destroying our country” before asserting that the situation at the border would look much different if he was still in office.
“This wall would have been completed,” he said. “Within two months, everything could have been completed. It would have been painted, not sitting there rotting and rusting.”
Prior to arriving at the unfinished section of the border wall, Trump attended the border security briefing, where Abbott and other local officials focused on the rise in illegal border crossings and the rapid increase in the “importation of the deadly drug ... fentanyl.” At the meeting, Trump touted his record on immigration, specifically highlighting the construction of hundreds of miles of border wall on his watch.
The former president contrasted the state of border security under his administration with that of his successor, recalling how there had “never been a border so secure” as it was during his presidency. He lamented that after leaving office with “the best border we’ve ever had in the history of our country,” it “dissipated” within “a period of a few months.”
“Now, we have an open, really dangerous border, more dangerous than it’s ever been in the history of our country,” he added.
“We have a sick country in many ways. It’s sick in elections and it’s sick at the border. And if you don’t have good elections and if you don’t have a strong border, you don’t have a country,” Trump warned.
Trump’s visit to the border comes five days after Vice President Kamala Harris, designated by President Joe Biden as the border czar earlier this year, visited El Paso, which is 790 miles away from what Democratic Rep. Henrey Cuellar has described as the "epicenter" of the border crisis.
Conservatives criticized her visit to El Paso as an attempt to get ahead of Trump’s planned visit and an effort to avoid spotlighting the problem since the epicenter of the border crisis is hundreds of miles away in the Rio Grande Valley.
The former president himself took a jab at Harris as he closed his remarks at the border security briefing, noting that “we’re going to the border right now but we’re going to the real part of the border where there’s real problems, not the part where you look around and you don’t see anything.”
Appearing on Fox News’ “Watters’ World” Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argued that “the reason that she didn’t go to the Rio Grande Valley is that’s where the Biden cages are. That’s where you see cage after cage after cage of little boys and little girls on the floor, no beds, no mats, no cots, side-by-side, one after the other after the other, wrapped in reflective emergency blankets.”
“What Kamala and Joe Biden desperately wanted to avoid is the TV cameras filming those kids in the Biden cages, so she went as far away as you can go in the state of Texas from where that was to say she went to the border,” he added. Cruz also contended that “when she went to El Paso ... she had no solutions, she had no answers.”
Ahead of his visit to the border, Trump wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times calling on the Biden administration to finish the border wall. According to the former president, “Our nation is being destroyed by Biden’s border crisis. The United States must immediately restore the entire set of border security and immigration enforcement measures we put into place — and critically, we must finish the wall.”
“A nation without borders is not a nation at all,” he wrote. “For the sake of our country, Joe Biden must finish sealing the border, or the American people must elect a Congress that will.”
In the absence of action from the Biden administration to address the border crisis, Abbott has taken steps at the state level to secure the border, which he touched upon at the border security briefing.
“We launched Operation Lone Star where we deployed 1,000 Texas Department of Public Safety officers as well as Texas National Guard, and they have already arrested almost 1,800 people for criminal violations in addition to about 40,000 apprehensions of people who have come across the border illegally and they have busted 41 stash houses.”
Abbott had previously detailed plans to spend $250 million to continue constructing a border wall between the state of Texas and Mexico. As The Christian Post previously reported, the migrant surge has led to overcrowded conditions at border detention facilities, leading to children sleeping on the floor and outbreaks of the coronavirus. Cruz tried to film the conditions at a border facility as a member of the Biden administration stood in his way in an effort to prevent him from capturing footage showing the conditions migrants were living in.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org