Well, it was an interesting notification. The White House announced that Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold a “Gaggle Aboard Air Force One En Route El Paso, Texas,” letting the masses know that President Joe Biden is going to get close to the US-Mexico border. It will be his first visit to the national disaster since taking the oath of office. The last time was during the campaign of 2008.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott, notable for shipping illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities, greeted the presidential envoy.
Sources report that El Paso rounded up tents and migrants, clearing the way for positive optics of the visit. That prompted the Border Patrol union to blow up Twitter on Friday: “El Paso being cleaned up as if nothing unusual ever happened there. Just in time for Biden’s ‘visit to the border.’” And then continued with this zinger: “We suggest just landing in Des Moines, Iowa, and telling him it’s El Paso. He’ll never know the difference,” the union wrote.
And Rep. Mayra Flores (R-TX) tweeted, “El Paso clears downtown of expansive migrant camps ahead of Biden visit. Why not show him what our border community and law enforcement officials are dealing with on a daily basis?”
In a nutshell, the whole publicity stunt did not get off to a good start.
Saving the Soul of the Southwest
Biden toured the El Paso Migrant Services Center, meeting with local faith leaders and other non-governmental refugee groups, and then lent his expertise to Customs and Border Protection officers about how their shop is run. A following of assorted law enforcement, a couple of members of Congress and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas surrounded the president.
Days before the visit, Mr. Biden had spoken of a new plan for processing those huddled in makeshift living arrangements and braving rain, snow, and freezing overnight temperatures. The president pointed to what he considers “the success of the Venezuela initiative,” which the administration put in place last October. Results have been promoted as having curbed the Venezuelans to a manageable number. Biden is now expanding the policy to include Haitians, Cubans, and Nicaraguans and would allow 30,000 individuals a month to be “paroled” for two years. To make the asylum-seeking process a tad more complex, the president added a caveat: Travel by plane, get a financial benefactor, and pass background checks. Illegal immigrants who have made no attempt to seek asylum status in a country through which they just traveled to get to America will also be denied access.
It appears the administration is finally aware of a national security problem at the border.
The stop in El Paso was simply on the way to his meeting destination in Santa Lucía, Mexico, to attend the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City. It’s hardly surprising that El Paso would be a quick trip on the way to someplace less controversial.
Biden’s Border Triumphs
Mr. Biden is neither a fan of nor a frequent visitor to the international boundary. The last time he was in the hood was as vice president on a campaign junket to Las Cruces, NM. The last time Biden got close to Mexico, “the plane landed at the El Paso airport and then the motorcade took the nearly one-hour drive to the suburb of Las Cruces,” a former aide explained. “The drive took Biden along a route that for a few minutes hugs the border of the United States and Mexico.” The Biden Bunch needs to look at a map: Las Cruces is a city in New Mexico, not a suburb of El Paso or anything else.
More recently, former press maven Jen Psaki reiterated that her boss had certainly been to the border: “He did drive through the border when he was on the campaign trail in 2008. And he is certainly familiar with the fact — and it stuck with him — with the fact that in El Paso, the border goes right through the center of town.” Has anyone in this administration visited the southwest? International borders don’t really work that way. El Paso stands on the Rio Grande, across the border from Ciudad Juárez. The city is not split in two; rather there is a large metropolis across the river.
Perhaps a quick visit will remind these White House people that southwestern states are still considered among the lower 48. But the less than three hours visit is probably a day late and a dollar short.
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd thought the trip was to smooth ruffled feathers: “Because you now have Democrats, his constituency, his base, now that they’re upset, now you’ve got Eric Adams, you’ve got the governor of Colorado,” he continued. “That’s the only reason that he’s coming to the border. And it’s two years too late.”
Yes, the handlers probably should have just sent the president to Des Moines.
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