(WATCH) Border Politics

Illegal immigration remains the most important problem facing the U.S. for the third month running. That’s according to Gallup. And it blends with another top election concern: crime. So far this fiscal year, illegal border crossers with nearly 9,000 criminal convictions have gotten caught coming into the U.S. They include more than a thousand convictions for violent crimes like sex offenses, assault, and murder. Today we begin in Texas where President Biden is surprising some by building miles of new border wall.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Joel Villarreal: If I remember correctly, President Biden did mention during his campaign that he was not gonna build another foot of border wall, which he’s not. He’s actually building 17 miles.

We’re in the border town of Rio Grande City, Texas, where we asked Mayor Joel Villarreal to show us where the Biden administration is putting up new border wall after all.

Villarreal: Well, this here is President Biden’s “movable wall.”

Sharyl: Did they call it a “movable wall” because, you think, that was more palatable for people who don’t really want a wall?

Villarreal: Absolutely.

It’s a stark turnaround. When Joe Biden ran for president in 2019, he made it clear where he stood on controlling the nation’s borders.

Joe Biden (September 2019): I would, in fact, make sure that there is, that we immediately surge the border all those people are seeking asylum. They deserve to be heard. That’s who we are. We’re a nation that says if you want to flee, and you’re fleeing oppression, you should come.

President Biden immediately halted border wall construction and reversed Donald Trump’s get-tough policies. And surge, they have — not just asylum-seekers crossing illegally between ports of entry, but also hardened criminals, cartel and gang members, and human and drug traffickers — moving Chinese fentanyl into the U.S., leading to a deadly epidemic.

For the better part of three years, Biden and his Homeland Security chief claimed the border was closed and secure as millions poured in illegally.

Now, with voters naming the border crisis a top issue in the 2024 presidential election, Biden’s rhetoric has taken a noticeable shift.

Biden (February 6): 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.

In February, both Biden and Trump visited the southern border in Texas on the very same day 300 miles apart. Biden trying to turn around the perception that he’s responsible for the border crisis. Trump capitalizing on an issue he’s strong on.

News of the planned Biden border barrier came last fall when Homeland Security Chief Alejandro Mayorkas filed paperwork stating there’s “an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries,” while insisting there’s been no policy change.

Biden said he still doesn’t think walls work and is only spending Trump-era funds because the law requires it.

Biden (October 2023): The border wall — the money was appropriated for the border wall. There’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated. I can’t stop that.

It’s led to an odd dynamic with the top polling issue in the presidential campaign. The federal government is now doing the very thing it’s trying to stop Texas Governor Greg Abbott from doing.

Villarreal: The hypocrisy is so nauseating. You know, on one end, you have President Biden building the border barrier. And at the other end, he’s suing Governor Abbott for building or erecting a border barrier.

Sharyl: Why do you think the turnaround at the 11th hour? Why would the Biden administration now be building border wall?

Villarreal: I mean, bottom line is people overall as a country, we are seeing what’s happening here. And the reality is that the circumstances that when you’re having individuals coming into the country, and again, not properly vetted or catch-and-release, it’s having an impact on the national perspective here.

Up the road a piece in Rio Grande City, residents gather to share a meal and chew on the politics of the day.

Sharyl: You’ve lived here your whole life, you said?

Cornelio Alvarez: Yes.

The local constable, Cornelio Alvarez, told us he’s unimpressed by the political attention.

Alvarez: I don’t care who is president, or I don’t care who is up there, because, you know, it’s such a big country that people don’t actually, you know, come and visit us only when they want, you know, because of the elections. But we don’t get visits often. I don’t think politics should be involved in this type of border-crossing or blaming who’s who.

Becky Garza owns Texas Cafe, first opened by her grandfather from Mexico back in 1939. Today, she’s an example of how border politics is making for strange and confused bedfellows.

Becky Garza: You got the Democrats saying one thing. You got the Republicans saying another thing. Then you’ve got liberals.

Sharyl: A lot of these border towns and the leaders who we’ve interviewed, they’re Democrats. However, they line up more sometimes with Republicans when it comes to border policy. What do you see in terms of politics? We’re in a presidential election year.

Garza: Because I don’t vote for the person anymore. I’m not gonna vote for Democrat, Republican anymore. I vote for policies now. I agree with the Republican rules or guidelines on immigration. It’s the same thing with a wall.

Sharyl: But you’re not a Republican?

Garza: No, I am not.

Customer Ray Castillo.

Ray Castillo: I don’t really classify myself as a Democrat or Republican, so for me it’s the issues that they want to combat and how they’re gonna approach them, which wins my vote.

We did come across something unexpected on our visit to Rio Grande City. We came to talk about the border. But residents told us they have a bigger concern.

Mayra Gracia is with the Rio Grande City Greater Chamber of Commerce and owns Aria Beauty Bar.

Mayra Gracia: That would be my top issue. The economy.

Sharyl: What is your feeling now about the state of the economy compared to other recent years? Do you feel like you’re doing better or not as good?

Gracia: Interest rates and prices have gone up real high to where now we have to work even harder or we have to have dual households to be able to afford a household to be able to live. At this point, it isn’t how it used to be, where the husbands would work and the wives could stay home. I don’t think that’s really much of a possibility right now.

Sharyl: Do you think that’s something that changes depending on who’s elected or is that just an ebb and flow?

Gracia: I believe it is something that changes depending on who’s elected, yes.

Sharyl: What are some of your thoughts about what’s important to you?

Castillo: One of the things that I think is important right now is the economy. It’s prices on everything is going up, and the checks are staying the same. So we really can’t combat inflation.

Garza: The economy right now is not where I feel it should be. And I don’t foresee it getting any better right now. We do need a change. We do need a change. And I’m gonna see what’s gonna happen with whoever has what to offer.

Meantime, Mayor Villarreal says they don’t need more border fencing in this particular spot, but Biden barriers are coming, like it or not.

Villarreal: This is the south point of the wall, and this would be the north, and it’s going to be going in west direction. And that’s the unfortunate part, because you’re gonna have the left and the right fighting over this. Whereas, “Hey, let’s close the border,” versus, “No, let’s bring everybody in.” But how do we find that bridge that political divide? And so far, unfortunately, D.C. hasn’t been able to do that. And where are we gonna go from here?

Right now, it would seem, all roads lead to November.

Sharyl (on-camera): In the past six months, more than 1.3 million people have gotten caught crossing the Southwest border illegally. If that rate continues, it will break all other records set each year under the Biden administration.

Watch video here.

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2 thoughts on “(WATCH) Border Politics”

  1. And Biden has the balls to tell Americans that Trump is responsible for the illegal immigrants crossing the border. When on top of them walking into a wide open border Biden has been flying them in as well since Jan 20th, 2021. With 320,000 in 2023 alone. I suppose Trump somehow did that as well. This country is a complete mess and one person is responsible Biden. Who is actually calling the shots who knows but Biden is the man pushing these policies through. Americans have a much better memory than Joe Biden and know what’s true and what’s a lie and everything Biden says anymore is a complete lie and in November it will catch up to him.

  2. If voters of USA do not see what Biden’s open border policy is and has done to our country, we are doomed come NOV 2024. Only way to save ourselves is VOTE THIS MORON out!!!!

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