Former President Trump returns to the nation’s southern border on Wednesday, as fellow Republicans continue to hammer President Biden over the increase in migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump will team up with GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas to visit an unfinished portion of the border wall that was begun during Trump’s presidency but halted as Biden took over in the White House in January. Abbott, a Trump ally, has pledged to finished construction of the wall in his state.
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It’s the second public appearance in less than a week for the former president, following his first post-White House campaign style rally, in Ohio on Saturday.
At the rally, Trump charged that his successor in the Oval Office “dismantled America’s border defenses and incited a flood of illegal migrants like this country has never seen.”
A political adviser close to Trump’s inner circle tells Fox News to expect more comments like that during the former president’s trip to the border.
Biden has ended many of the restrictive immigration polices implemented by Trump, who repeatedly pledged during his successful 2016 campaign for the White House to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for the construction. Trump made border security a top policy during his administration and in 2019 declared a state of emergency in order to divert federal funds heading to the military to pay for the border wall.
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Besides halting construction of Trump’s wall, Biden also ended a program that forced migrants to wait in Mexico as they waited for resolution to their U.S. asylum cases, as he aims to follow through on his 2020 campaign pledge for a more humane immigration system.
Arrests along the southern border with Mexico have surged this year to their highest monthly averages in two decades, with Republicans blaming Biden’s immigration policies for the influx.
“We’ve seen so many people coming across the border who are harming Texans and as governor I cannot allow my fellow Texans to being harmed or endangered,” Abbott declared two weeks ago in an interview on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
And he pledged: “We’re going to arrest people and put them in jail for a long time so they will know they’re no longer going to be getting the Biden red carpet treatment.”
“Texas is going to do what the Biden administration is refusing to do. Texas is going up step up and secure our border. We will be using every tool available to us under the law. And we will ensure that we build the wall, arrest people and make Texas safe, and send a message to Washington D.C. ‘stand up and do your job,’” Abbott told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
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Longtime Abbott political adviser David Carney told Fox News that the “conceptual part” of the trip with Trump to the border “has been in the works for months.” Carney said that Trump “wanted to come down and see firsthand what was going on and what the governor’s plans are, and the governor invited him.”
“The president’s going to get a briefing from the governor and his top Homeland Security people,” Carney shared, adding that the two men – along with some House GOP members – will “tour part of the border along the wall where the president’s policies built it and where the Biden administration ended it abruptly on Jan. 20.” The trip is taking place near Weslaco, at the southern tip of Texas.
The visit by Trump comes as the former president remains extremely popular with conservative voters and retains immensely clout of Republican politicians, as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in GOP 2022 primaries and flirts with another White House run in 2024.
After their visit to the border, both Trump and Abbott will join Fox News’ Sean Hannity for a town hall, which will run on Fox News Channel at 9pm ET on “Hannity.”
Republicans have signaled that they hope to make border security and the wider issue of immigration a key issue in next year’s midterms, as they aim to win back majorities in both the House and Senate.
Support for building the U.S.-Mexico border wall is up – and now matches a previous high, according to the results of a Fox News national poll conducted in May. While voters had mixed views on the wall, the 50 percent who favored it in May matched the record set in 2015 — and the 46 percent opposed was a new low. The results marked a reversal from a Fox News poll in December 2019, when 44% favored it and 52% were opposed.
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Border security also appears to be an issue that the current president is struggling with when it comes to public opinion.
Biden stood at 56% approval and 42% disapproval in a Fox News poll released last week. But when it comes to the issue of immigration, the president’s underwater at 41% approval and 54% disapproval.
The Democratic National Committee is blasting the trip, charging on the eve of the visit that “Donald Trump and Republicans are bringing their clown show on the road in a desperate attempt to try to spin their cruel border policies to mislead voters.
Abbott announced a couple of weeks ago steps to stem the flow of migrants illegally crossing the border into Texas — among them are temporary fencing along the border as he pledges to finish construction of the border wall, beefing up the presence of state police at the border and arresting and jailing people caught illegally trespassing on private property.
Abbott’s actions also come ahead of his 2022 reelection bid, as he runs for a third four-year term steering Texas, and ahead of a possible Republican presidential nomination bid in 2024.
Some Republicans in Texas say that Abbott’s muscular moves are an effort to protect his right flank, after taking plenty of incoming fire last year from furious Texas conservatives over his mask mandates and COVID-19 restrictions on businesses. And the governor was also dinged earlier this year for the state’s handling of a deadly winter storm, which triggered a electrical grid collapse that left millions of Texans freezing amid abnormally frigid temperatures.
Abbott is already facing a primary challenge from the right from former state Sen. Don Huffines. And outgoing state GOP chair Allen West – a controversial and outspoken former congressman from Florida – is also publicly mulling a bid against Abbott.
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But Carney said that campaign politics was not a motivating factor behind the flurry of activity.
“We have zero focus on all the chatter,” Carney insisted. “We are 100% confident we know where the Republican primary voters are. We’re not worried at all about the primary. It’s the silly season in Texas because the (legislative) session’s over and lots of people have lots of dreams.”