In a highly anticipated trip to the border in Brownsville, Texas, on Thursday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to “set politics aside” and pass a bipartisan border policy deal that died earlier this month amid GOP opposition swiftly after its long-awaited unveiling. 

“They desperately need more resources. I’ll say it again — they desperately need more resources,” Biden said. “They need more agents, more officers, more judges, more equipment in order to secure our border.” 

“Folks, it’s time for us to move on this. We can’t wait any longer,” he declared. 

What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden traveled to Brownsville, Texas, on Thursday, the same day that former President Donald Trump is also headed to the U.S.-Mexico Border

  • Biden urged Republicans in Congress to pass a bipartisan border security agreement that was scuttled earlier this month by congressional Republicans

  • The president has slammed Trump and House Republicans for pulling out of the bipartisan border agreement and made clear that he will continue to lay the blame at their feet from now until November

  • In the wake of the bill's scuttling, President Biden said he is considering taking executive action to secure the border, which drew backlash from officials on both the far-right and far-left

In the same spirit of bipartisanship, Biden invited his expected rival for the presidency this November, former President Donald Trump, to work with him on the issue. Trump — whom Biden blamed for the border deal's failure among Republicans — gave his own remarks on immigration in Texas on Thursday about 300 miles away from Biden's appearance.

“I understand my predecessor is in Eagle Pass today,” Biden said before making his appeal, “so here’s what what I would say to Mr. Trump: instead of playing politics with this issue, instead of telling members of Congress to block this legislation, join me, or I'll join you in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill.”

“We can do it together,” Biden said. 

The president started his border trip — just the second of his presidency — with a briefing from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials as he walked along the border. Biden then made his way to the Brownsville Border Patrol Station for an operational briefing from more CBP officials as well as personnel from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

At one point, Biden told officials he “admired” their dedication and willingness to keep at the job despite being understaffed. 

Biden was joined on the trip by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — who was recently impeached by House Republicans as a rebuke to the president’s immigration policies — as well as Democratic Rep. Vincente Gonzalez. 

In a fact sheet, the White House laid out how the $20 billion in funding the bill contained would be disbursed:

  • Hiring more than 1,500 new Customs and Border Protection personnel;

  • Adding 4,300 asylum officers;

  • Increasing detention beds from 40,000 to 50,000;

  • Hiring an additional 100 immigration judges and staff;

  • Funding 100 high-tech inspection machines to detect fentanyl;

  • Providing $1.4 billion for states and cities providing services to migrants and expediting work permits for those who qualify

In his remarks following his briefings, Biden emphasized the need for the additional funding in the bill. 

“With this deal, we could hire 1,500 additional border security agents, 1,500 additional officers and between ports of entry,” Biden said. “For the last four years, staffing has been roughly that – flat, just flat. Agents working overtime, spending long hours patrolling the border, making major sacrifices.” 

It all comes amid a heightened focus on the border and its prominence as a potential central issue in November’s presidential election as polls show its moved up the list of voters’ concerns. 

Biden on Thursday hammered the GOP for rejecting the bipartisan border deal that he called the “toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen in this country.”

“I didn’t get everything I wanted in that compromise bipartisan bill but neither did anybody else,” Biden said. “Compromise is part of the process, that’s how democracy works.” 

The border deal, negotiated over weeks by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House, was declared dead by some in the GOP, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., almost immediately after lawmakers released it. Trump encouraged Republicans to kill the bill. 

Despite Republicans originally insisting border changes be tied to foreign aid, the upper chamber then proceeded to pass a $95 billion dollar package providing aid to Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific and more without border policy changes. The foreign assistance bill now hinges on the GOP-controlled House, where its prospects look rocky. 

“I want the people to understand clearly what has happened here: this bill was in the United States Senate, was on its way to being passed, then it was derailed by partisan politics,” Biden said on Thursday. “The U.S. Senate needs to reconsider this bill.” 

Earlier this month, the president put the same sentiment more harshly. 

"If the bill fails, I want to be absolutely clear about something: The American people are going to know why it failed," Biden vowed earlier this month on the eve of the bill's demise. "I’ll be taking this issue to the country, and the voters are going to know that just at the moment we were going to secure the border and fund these other programs, Trump and the MAGA Republicans said no because they’re afraid of Donald Trump, afraid of Donald Trump.

"Every day between now and November, the American people are going to know that the only reason the border is not secure is Donald Trump and his MAGA Republican friends," he said. "It’s time for Republicans in the Congress to show a little courage, to show a little spine to make it clear to the American people that you work for them and not for anyone else."

Biden has visited the U.S.-Mexico border once before amid criticism of his migration politics, traveling to El Paso, Texas, last year, but Thursday's trip will be his first since Republicans killed the bipartisan bill that would have enacted strict immigration reform in exchange for Israel and Ukraine aid. Despite the fact that a conservative Republican lawmaker was involved in the negotiations, the bill was opposed by several prominent GOP members, including Trump House Speaker Mike Johnson, who argued that it did not go far enough to secure the border.

In the wake of the bill's scuttling, President Biden said he is considering taking executive action to secure the border, which drew backlash from officials on both the far-right and far-left

Critics, including the head of the Border Patrol union and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the last remaining GOP challenger for president, have called Biden's trip to the border "too little, too late" -- though in the case of the latter, she also offered the same critique for Trump.

“This photo op is too little, too late,” Haley communications director Nachama Soloveichik said in a statement Wednesday. “Nikki Haley has been tackling America’s porous southern border for more than a decade while Joe Biden rolled out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants and Donald Trump demanded Republicans do nothing about it. As usual, there’s a lot of hot air from the fellas and a plan of action from Nikki.”