Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Biden border visit a 'photo-op;' 'too little,' 'too late'

Immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally sleep on a sidewalk near a migrant shelter on January 06, 2023, in El Paso, Texas. President Joe Biden visited El Paso on Sunday for his first-ever visit to the border in his decades-long career in politcs. U.S. Border authorities took into custody some 2.5 million illegal migrants in 2022, the highest number on record.
Immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally sleep on a sidewalk near a migrant shelter on January 06, 2023, in El Paso, Texas. President Joe Biden visited El Paso on Sunday for his first-ever visit to the border in his decades-long career in politcs. U.S. Border authorities took into custody some 2.5 million illegal migrants in 2022, the highest number on record. | John Moore/Getty Images

Critics of the Biden administration's handling of the immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border say President Joe Biden’s trip to Texas and Mexico amounted to a “photo-op” and expressed concern that the administration’s policies will only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. 

President Joe Biden visited the southwest border for the first time Sunday, as concerns grow about the high volume of illegal immigration negatively affecting U.S. citizens and border communities. Statistics compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol show there were 465,034 encounters between migrants and law enforcement officials at the southwest border in the first two months of fiscal year 2023, which began in October. By comparison, just 339,682 encounters occurred during the same period in fiscal year 2022. 

Biden’s border visit occurred against the backdrop of his administration’s efforts to abolish Title 42, which enables border officials to quickly turn away migrants seeking entry into the U.S. due to public health concerns posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered Title 42 to remain in place as the justices are slated to hear a case involving the matter later this year. The abandonment of Title 42 is expected to cause the number of illegal border crossings to increase to an even higher figure. 

The president announced his intention to visit the border city of El Paso, Texas, in a press conference last week. During the address, Biden laid out actions his administration was taking to address the surge at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the expansion of a parole program allowing Venezuelan migrants with sponsors in the U.S. to come to the country for two years and receive work permits as long as they pass a background check to Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans. 

The president predicted that expanding the parole program to three additional countries will “substantially reduce the number of people attempting to cross the southwest border without going through the legal process.” He contended that since the establishment of the existing parole program, “the number of Venezuelans trying to enter America without going through a legal process has dropped dramatically from about 1,100 per day to less than 250 per day on average.”  

When Biden arrived in El Paso, Gov. Greg Abbott gave him a letter declaring that “your visit to our southern border with Mexico today is $20 billion too little and two years too late.”

Abbott added, “Your visit avoids the sites where mass illegal immigration occurs and sidesteps the thousands of angry property owners whose lives have been destroyed by your border policies.” 

“Even the city you visit has been sanitized of the migrant camps which had overrun downtown El Paso because your Administration wants to shield you from the chaos that Texans experience on a daily basis,” he wrote. “This chaos is a direct result of your failure to enforce the immigration laws that Congress enacted.”

Abbott elaborated on the consequences of mass illegal immigration at the southwest border, including the emboldening of the drug cartels engaged in “trafficking deadly fentanyl and even human beings.” He told the president “when you finish the photo-ops in a carefully stage-managed version of El Paso, you have a job to do.”

The Texas governor urged Biden to “comply with the many statutes mandating that various categories of aliens ‘shall’ be detained, and end the practice of unlawfully paroling aliens en masse,” stop “sandbagging” Title 42, “aggressively prosecute illegal entry between ports of entry, and allow ICE to remove illegal immigrants in accordance with existing federal laws,” immediately resume the construction of the border wall separating the U.S. from Mexico and “designate the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.”

Newly elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., issued a statement of his own, characterizing Biden’s visit to the border as a “photo-op,” suggesting that any calls for border security from the administration ring hollow as long as the president continues “pushing for amnesty for millions of immigrants who have crossed into the U.S. illegally.” McCarthy vowed that “House Republicans will hold him and [Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro] Mayorkas accountable for creating the most dangerous border crisis in American history.”

Ahead of Biden’s visit to the border, the Democratic mayor of El Paso declared a state of emergency, citing the impacts of the migrant surge on his city. Critics of the Biden administration previously attributed the rise in illegal border crossings, which began at the beginning of his presidency in 2021, to the abandonment of the Migrant Protection Protocols that required those seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico while their asylum claims were adjudicated.

During his speech last week, Biden touted the CBP ONE app, which enables migrants “to schedule an appointment at a port of entry and make their asylum claim there without crossing the border unlawfully.” Additionally, the White House released a fact sheet last week outlining additional actions the administration was taking to reduce illegal immigration at the southwest border.

Specifically, the fact sheet proclaimed that “ ... individuals who attempt to enter the United States without permission, do not have a legal basis to remain, and cannot be expelled pursuant to Title 42 will be increasingly subject to expedited removal from their country of origin and subject to a five-year ban on reentry.”

“DHS and DOJ are surging asylum officers and immigration judges to review asylum cases at the border more quickly — with the aim of reducing initial processing times from months to days,” the document added. The administration also intends to mobilize “faith-based and nonprofit organizations supporting migrants, including those providing temporary shelter, food, and humanitarian assistance.”  

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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