On his first visit to the region after two years in office, President Joe Biden inspected a busy port of entry and walked a muddy section of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Contentious immigration politics overshadowed the trip as Republicans sought to pin the blame on the record numbers of migrants entering the country.
During his first stop, the president watched as border agents in El Paso explained how they examine cars for narcotics, cash, and other contraband.
He then went to a dusty street with a little playground and several abandoned buildings.
A metal border barrier dividing the American city from Ciudad Juarez was close to the roadway.
Two Border Patrol agents first accompanied Biden as he made cautious progress down the border fence.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave Biden a letter upon his arrival in the state that claimed the “chaos” at the border was a “direct result” of the president’s unwillingness to enforce federal laws as a sign of the intense sensitivities around immigration.
Later, while on tour, Biden removed the letter from his jacket pocket and told reporters, “I haven’t read it yet.”
When asked what he had learned from viewing the border for himself and talking to the border patrol agents, Biden replied, “They need a lot of resources. We’ll obtain it on their behalf.
For many years, immigration has been a contentious issue that has exposed both the flaws in the American system and the unrest that has driven many migrants to leave their native countries.
Republican criticism of the administration has been met with responses from administration officials who claim that Congress should collaborate with them to fund increased border security and reform immigration laws.
Biden only spent a short time in the city, which is currently the busiest route for unauthorized border crossings, largely because Nicaraguans are fleeing oppression, crime, and poverty in their home country.
They are among the four nationalities of immigrants who are now liable to prompt deportation due to new guidelines adopted by the Biden administration last week and harshly criticized by immigration groups.
Additionally, the president was scheduled to meet with charities and faith-based organizations assisting immigrants entering the country at the El Paso County Migrant Services Center.
Whether he would converse with any migrants was unclear.
In part, Biden’s declaration on border security and his trip to the border are intended to calm political clamor and lessen the impact of future immigration probes that House Republicans have promised to conduct.
But since numerous attempts to legislate significant improvements have fallen short in previous years, the bitterly divided Congress will need to implement any long-lasting solution.
Biden was to travel south from El Paso to Mexico City, where he and the presidents of Mexico and Canada will meet on Monday and Tuesday for a North American summit.