Southern Border Visit 'Two Years Too Late,' Texas's Abbott Tells Biden

Border has seen four million migrant crossings since January 2021

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Getty Images)
January 9, 2023

Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) told President Joe Biden that his visit Sunday to the southern border in El Paso was "$20 billion too little and two years too late."

In a letter Abbott handed to the president on the city airport's tarmac, the governor blamed Biden for the "worst illegal immigration in the history of our country," adding that Texans are paying a "high price," sometimes with their lives.

Biden received the letter after he stepped off Air Force One in El Paso, where he spent roughly three hours touring sites before heading to Mexico City for meetings.

Republicans have criticized Biden for months for failing to visit the border as it faces record levels of illegal immigration. Agents tallied 313,681 migrant encounters in December, which broke November's record-setting level. The last fiscal year saw a total of 2.4 million encounters. Four million immigrants have attempted to illegally cross into the United States since the beginning of 2021, federal data show.

Ahead of Biden's visit, El Paso police cleared out migrant camps throughout the city, where the Democratic mayor declared a state of emergency in December over homeless migrants.

"Your open-border policies have emboldened the cartels, who grow wealthy by trafficking deadly fentanyl and even human beings," Abbott said.

The governor listed several actions the Biden administration should take, including enforcing Title 42, a Trump-era policy allowing agents to turn away migrants due to the pandemic. Biden has sought to reverse the rule and the Supreme Court is set to rule on it next month.

"You must immediately resume construction of the border wall in the State of Texas, using the billions of dollars Congress has appropriated for that purpose," Abbott said.

Abbott also called for the designation of drug cartels as "foreign terrorist organizations." Former president Donald Trump said last week that if reelected he would deploy military assets to "wage war on cartels."