Biden heading to Brownsville to visit U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, AP sources say

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Thursday after congressional talks on a deal to rein in illegal migration collapsed, according to people familiar with the plans.

The visits underscore the central role immigration is going to play in the 2024 presidential race and how much both Biden and Trump are seeking to use the nation’s broken system to their political advantage.

Biden will travel to Brownsville, in the Rio Grande Valley, an area that often sees large numbers of border crossings, said three people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s plans before they had been formally announced.

He will meet with border agents and discuss the need for bipartisan legislation, the people said. It would be his second visit to the border as president. He traveled to El Paso last January.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump, for his part, will head to Eagle Pass, Texas about 325 miles away from Brownsville, another hot spot in the state-federal clash over border security, according to another person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.

Biden has excoriated Republicans for abandoning the bipartisan border deal after Trump came out in opposition to the plan to tighten asylum restrictions and create daily limits on border crossings. Trump, meanwhile, has dialed up his anti-immigrant rhetoric, suggesting migrants are poisoning the blood of Americans.

Trump’s campaign says Biden’s plan to visit the border is a sign that the president is on the defensive over immigration and the issue is a problem for his reelection effort. Biden’s camp says it’s House Republicans who are on the defensive, after Trump flatly said he told GOP legislators to tank the bill that would have funded border agents and other Homeland Security authorities. The New York Times first reported the travel.

The failure of the border bill this month has caused the Department of Homeland Security, which controls the border, to assess its priorities and shift money between its agencies to plug holes. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering slashing detention beds to 22,000 from 38,000 and reducing deportation flights. That would mean more migrants released into the U.S. who arrive at the border.

Biden is considering executive actions to help stop the flow of migrants into the U.S. Among the actions under consideration by Biden is invoking authorities outlined in Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which give a president broad leeway to block entry of certain immigrants into the United States if it would be “detrimental” to the national interest.

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