It might have taken him half a term, but President Joe Biden finally visited the country’s southern border. On Sunday, the president visited the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso days shy of his second anniversary in office. He has either repealed or severely limited nearly every border policy put in place by his Republican predecessor.
The trip was complete with all the hallmarks of a politician desperate to show face while aiming to avoid accountability. With his brief appearance, Biden meant to present himself as an assertive commander-in-chief who takes the border seriously, but in reality, it was a pretend performance all along.
According to CNN, which described the presidential tour as a “tightly controlled visit” in its headline, Biden “responded to a few questions from reporters, saying that the government would provide every resource at the border.” Without extrapolating on what was asked, the network went on to report that Biden met with workers at a migrant detention center out of earshot of the few reporters on the ground. The small selection of reporters who traveled with the president generated no news from the visit beyond photos and facts about the president’s general whereabouts.
According to Fox News, the areas visited by the president were polished before arrival. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources described a “sanitized and orderly” situation presented to the president, clouding the severity of the crisis. Pop-up encampments in El Paso were dissolved ahead of Biden’s trip.
Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, told Fox News the president didn’t even visit the most problematic areas.
“You can look across the ports of entry on the entire southwest border, and that’s not where we’re seeing the illegal immigration,” Judd told the network Monday. “We’re seeing the illegal immigration between the ports of entry.”
The president’s visit, however, failed to include time with either migrants or border agents stationed along the nearly 2,000-mile-long perimeter’s most stressed areas. The trip was merely a cheap political stunt to silence critics of Biden who consistently highlight his absence at the border while overwhelmed law enforcement continue failing to contain the surge in migration.
In October, the CBP reported roughly 2.3 million migrant encounters in the 2022 fiscal year, setting a new 12-month record. The CBP estimates nearly 600,000 migrants have successfully evaded capture, according to officials who spoke to Fox News.
House Republicans have responded to the crisis by threatening to wield their new majority in the lower chamber for Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s impeachment.
“We have lost operational control of our southern border, empowering drug cartels and human trafficking,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in November before he was elected to the speakership. “If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure [and] will determine whether we can begin an impeachment inquiry.”
Biden’s brief border blitz foreshadowed preparations for the administration’s revocation of Title 42, a Trump-era public-health order put in place at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak empowering border officials to expel migrants. Biden ordered the regulation be terminated but was blocked by the Supreme Court last month. The court will rule on the policy later this year.
Three days before the visit, Biden announced a series of measures at the White House supposedly intended to curb illegal migration. The speech amounted to nothing but lip service to precede his long-anticipated trip to the southern border. Provisions include new humanitarian aid for countries exporting the migrants and a welcome mat for 30,000 new annual migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and Nicaragua every month.
The presidential border trip came in the middle of winter, when crossings are at their lowest, at a relatively controlled port of entry where officials cleaned up camps ahead of the visit as the White House preps for a two-day appearance at the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City this week. It all illustrates a president deeply unserious about grasping the crisis.
The president didn’t even go into 2023 with any major plans to visit the border. On a trip to Arizona last month, Biden responded to the constant criticism of his absence by claiming, “there are more important things going on.”
But with the drama over the speakership on Capitol Hill taking over the news cycle, Biden quickly made a speech on immigration and took a trip down to El Paso.