Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday delivered a full-throated condemnation of President Biden‘s approach to illegal immigration during his first post-presidency trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, saying his Democratic successor is “destroying our country.”
With the border wall as a backdrop, Mr. Trump said he left the boundary as secure as it has ever been after delivering on his promise to build new sections of the fence and enact tough immigration policies.
Unfortunately, Mr. Trump said, Mr. Biden has ruined it all.
“Biden is destroying our country, and it all started with a fake election,” Mr. Trump said, reiterating his unproven claim of a stolen election. “You wouldn’t have these problems. This wall would have been completed.
“It would have been painted — not sitting there rotting and rusting,” he said. “It would have been perfecto.”
Mr. Biden followed through with his campaign promise to stop construction of the border wall.
He also rescinded the “Remain in Mexico” policy that forced migrants to wait in Mexico for asylum hearings and ended agreements with Central American countries to stem the flow of migrants crossing their territory en route to the U.S.
Mr. Trump said the moves seem personal.
“We had all these great policies going, and they were all ended,” Mr. Trump said. “It was almost like they were ended because I did it.”
“The real question is: Do they really want open borders, or are they incompetent?” Mr. Trump said. “You are either incompetent or for some reason you have a screw loose and you want to have open borders.”
Mr. Trump toured a part of the border wall with Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and law enforcement officials.
The Biden administration has been put on the defensive over the surge of migrants at the southern border.
The issue is arguably the biggest challenge facing the Biden administration, and there are signs it is becoming a political vulnerability.
Polls show Mr. Biden has solid overall approval ratings, but he is underwater on immigration.
Republicans have used the issue as a political cudgel to attack Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Mr. Trump said Wednesday that the current situation could have been avoided if Mr. Biden and his backers had left his policies alone.
“If they went to the beach and did nothing, it would have been fine,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Abbott said the Biden administration’s “open border policies” have enabled cartels and gangs.
He said the Texas Legislature and law enforcement have stepped up to do the federal government’s job, including building more border fencing.
Over the past month, Mr. Abbott said, the Department of Public Safety arrested nearly 1,800 criminals who crossed the border, apprehended almost 40,000 illegal immigrants and raided 41 “stash houses” to help slow the spread of fentanyl.
“One of the things he did better than anything else, and better than any other president, he stepped up and secured our border and kept Texans and Americans safe,” Mr. Abbott said of Mr. Trump at the briefing. “Mr. President, things have changed so quickly and so dramatically under the Biden administration. It has been amazing and disastrous.”
Mr. Abbott said the state is doing all it can to combat drug smuggling, violence and overall mayhem along the border.
“We are doing all that we can for one reason, and that is because of the way the people along the border are having their lives turned upside down,” Mr. Abbott said. “It is a far more dangerous situation than it has ever been.”
Mr. Trump visited the border amid reports that the Trump Organization and the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, were expected to be charged Thursday with tax-related crimes stemming from a New York investigation into the former president’s business dealings.
The charges against Mr. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization would be the first criminal cases to arise from the two-year probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat who leaves office at the end of the year.
Mr. Trump is stepping back into the public spotlight ahead of the 2022 midterms. He held a campaign-style rally in Ohio on Saturday and is scheduled to appear at “45 Fest,” a rally in Florida over the July Fourth weekend.
Mr. Trump reportedly rejected pleas from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, to pull the plug on the event given the ongoing search-and-rescue mission in the rubble of the seaside condominium near Miami that collapsed last week.
Mr. Trump on Wednesday also criticized Mr. Biden‘s immigration policies in a column in The Washington Times.
“When I was president, I delivered on my promise to build a border wall to protect our country. All Joe Biden had to do was paint it,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Instead, Biden has enacted the most radical open borders agenda imaginable.
“This is perhaps the first time in world history a nation has purposely and systematically dismantled its own defenses to invite millions of foreign migrants to enter its territory and break its laws,” he said.
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, raised money off Mr. Trump’s “historic visit.”
“The Liberal News Media knows that Democrats have FAILED to address the Border Crisis, and they’re doing everything they can to keep President Trump‘s visit from being a success,” the Republican National Committee said in a fundraising email.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.