President Joe Biden (second from the right) looks over the southern border, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Brownsville, Texas. Walking with Biden are from l-r., Peter Flores, Deputy Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jason Owens, Chief, U.S. Border Patrol and Gloria Chavez, Sector Chief, U.S. Border Patrol. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Biden and Trump both arrive at U.S.-Mexico border highlighting immigration as a major election issue

President Joe Biden and likely Republican challenger Donald Trump arrived Thursday in Texas, some 300 miles apart, for dueling trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in a sign of how central immigration has become to the 2024 election and how much each man wants to use it to his advantage.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — President Joe Biden and likely Republican challenger Donald Trump arrived Thursday in Texas, some 300 miles apart, for dueling trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in a sign of how central immigration has become to the 2024 election and how much each man wants to use it to his advantage.

Each chose an optimal location to underscore his points.

Biden, who wants to spotlight how Republicans tanked a bipartisan border security deal on Trump’s orders, went to the Rio Grande Valley city of Brownsville. For nine years, this was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings, but they have dropped sharply in recent months.

”Brownsville, Texas, is a very good glimpse of how dynamic and challenging that migration phenomenon is,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said from Air Force One.

Trump, for his part, wants to keep up his dialed-up tone after harnessing rhetoric once used by Adolf Hitler to argue migrants are poisoning the blood of America.

He journeyed to Eagle Pass, roughly 325 miles northwest of Brownsville, in the corridor that’s currently seeing the largest number of crossings. Trump was to speak from a state park that has become a Republican symbol of defiance against the federal government immigration enforcement practices it mocks.

Among those voters, worries about the nation’s broken immigration system are rising on both sides of the political divide, which could be especially problematic for Biden.

According to an AP-NORC poll in January, the share of voters concerned about immigration rose to 35% from 27% last year. Fifty-five percent of Republicans say the government needs to focus on immigration in 2024, while 22% of Democrats listed immigration as a priority. That’s up from 45% and 14%, respectively, from December 2022.

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