Biden and Trump to head to the border on the same day

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Semafor Signals

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Insights from The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Gallup

The News

U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will both travel to the United States’ border with Mexico on Thursday, underscoring the crucial role the record number of migrants crossing into the U.S. has come to play on the campaign trail.

In a rare visit to the southern border first reported by The New York Times, Biden plans to meet with U.S. Border patrol agents, law enforcement and community leaders in Brownsville, Texas, to discuss the challenges they face in dealing with migrant crossings and underscore need for a border deal. The president is expected to blame the migration crisis on House Republicans, who voted against a bipartisan package that would have enacted tough restrictions for those crossing.

Trump will visit Eagle Pass, 300 miles away, where he is believed to be planning a speech that will highlight the scale of the immigration crisis and place the blame squarely on Biden.


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Biden considers executive order as immigration becomes a political albatross

Sources:  The New York Times, Bloomberg, Gallup

Biden is considering executive action to prevent those who cross the border from claiming asylum, but is unlikely to unveil any new executive action on Thursday, The New York Times reported. The order Biden is mulling would reportedly block people who cross the southern border illegally from seeking asylum – but any such order would be almost certain to face legal challenges. Even so, it would allow Biden to tell voters that he has taken steps to deal with the border situation. Polls show that migration has become a serious political liability for Biden: According to one Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll from January, six in ten swing state voters said Biden bears at least some responsibility for the rise in border crossings, while Gallup found that his handling of immigration is the leading reason his detractors disapprove.

Migrant surge hits decade-long peak

Sources:  CNN, NPR, BBC, Cato Institute

Migrant encounters at the United States’ southern border reached more than 225,000 in December, the highest monthly total for more than 20 years, but dipped sharply in January, which tends to be a slow month for migration because of the winter weather. The overall rise in migrant arrivals is fueled by pent-up demand after the pandemic, rising displacement in Central and South America, and a change in rhetoric and policy following the Trump presidency, the BBC reported. A strong U.S. labor market is also a factor, with large numbers of migrants traveling to the U.S. to take on work, an analysis by the Cato Institute argued.