President Biden Visits the Border and Finds No Illegal Migrants and No Time to Discuss the Crisis in a Meeting with Mexico’s President
During December, illegal migrants were crossing the border at El Paso, Texas, at a rate of about 2,300 per day, leading the mayor to declare a state of emergency. Yet, on January 8, when President Joe Biden finally succumbed to pressure to get a firsthand look at the situation he found virtually no illegal migrants.
Prior to his arrival, the streets of El Paso had been scrubbed of a large encampment of migrants awaiting transportation to their preferred destinations across the country, courtesy of the federal government, Gov. Greg Abbott, or Mayor Oscar Leeser. At a migrant reception center the president visited on that Sunday, not a single illegal migrant was awaiting processing. It was as though the president visited the beach and managed not to find any sand. Even Biden-friendly news outlets like CNN were incredulous. Asked how the president managed to show up at a migrant-receiving facility without encountering any migrants, a senior White House official, presumably with a straight face, responded, “There just weren’t any at the center when he arrived. Completely coincidental. They haven’t had any today.”
President Biden also met with a small group of carefully selected Border Patrol agents and, ironically, had his picture taken in front a section of secure border wall, further construction of which he halted on his first day in office in 2021. What he was told by the Border Patrol agents has not been disclosed, but whatever was said does not seem to have altered his administration’s policies that have resulted in some 5.5 million illegal entries during his first two years in the White House. The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing uniformed agents, has been very vocal in its criticism of the Biden administration’s policies which they say are directly to blame for the crisis that the president managed to avoid seeing.
A day later, however, a bipartisan delegation of eight U.S. Senators arrived in El Paso and saw a completely different picture of what is going on. Gone was the Potemkin village that President Biden saw and, in its place, were the masses of illegal migrants entering the United States that has become the norm in El Paso over the past few months.
Undoubted, the primary objective of the president’s visit was to check a box and deflect the growing chorus of criticism – including by members of his own party – about his failure to at least make an appearance at the border. Nobody was fooled that this was nothing more than a photo-op, least of all Gov. Abbott who was on-hand to greet Mr. Biden when Air Force One touched down in El Paso. Dispensing with the customary political niceties, Gov. Abbott handed the president a letter charging, “Your visit to our southern border with Mexico today is $20 billion too little and two years too late.” The governor squarely blamed the president for “the chaos that Texans experience on a daily basis,” adding that “[t] his chaos is the direct result of your failure to enforce the immigration laws that Congress enacted.”
President Biden’s three-hour visit to El Paso was a quick stopover on his way to Mexico to meet with other North American leaders. While unprecedented migration is a raging issue throughout the hemisphere, it went “largely unaddressed” during a one-on-one meeting Mr. Biden held with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, because the two leaders “ran out of time.”
López Obrador did find time, however, to thank President Biden for halting construction of the border wall. “You are the first president of the United States in a very long time that has not built even one meter of wall,” he told Biden at the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City. “And we thank you for that, sir, although some might not like it.” Actually, according to polling conducted by FAIR in November, 62 percent of Americans support construction of the border wall. But, at least, President Biden can take some comfort in knowing that he is making the president of Mexico happy.