© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How the border became 2024's top political football

Ways To Subscribe
Trump supporters gather in Eagle Pass outside of Shelby Park
David Martin Davies
Trump supporters gather in Eagle Pass outside of Shelby Park

The growing number of migrants seeking entry into the United States at its border with Mexico has strained government resources, divided Congress and emerged as a contentious issue in the 2024 presidential campaign.

In Iowa and New Hampshire, two early-voting states thousands of miles from the southwest border, voters ranked immigration nearly as important as the economy when asked which issue mattered most in deciding how to vote in the Republican presidential contests.

This can explain why both presidential presumptive party nominees, President Biden and former President Trump will be on the Texas Mexico border on Thursday.

Border security was a centerpiece of Trump's successful 2016 campaign, and he is now repeating those talking points but now they are even more over the top than they were eight years ago. Trump is echoing lines from Hitler by saying immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country."

Meanwhile Biden is trying to show that he is seeking bipartisan solutions to a broken border and immigration system. Biden is also talking about using executive action to address the overburdened asylum process that isn’t equipped to handle the numbers of migrants turning up at the southern border. But this is ginning up rancor within Biden’s own party as progressive Democrats, on humanitarian grounds, don’t want to see caps put on the number of asylum seekers. Meanwhile other Democratic leaders are demanding Biden take immediate direct action as New York and Illinois are forced to deal with the fallout from busloads of migrants being sent to their cities by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott.

Migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border reached a record high of 302,000 in December, and apprehensions hit the historic peak of 2.2 million in fiscal year 2022. Over 100,000 migrants have been transported to cities like Washington, Los Angeles and New York.

In recent months the flow of migrants arriving at the border has slowed to a relative trickle but that hasn’t slowed down the claims that immigration is destroying the nation.


Jocelyn Kiley is Associate Director of Research at the Pew Research Center.

Fernando Garcia is the Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights.

Antonio Arellano is with NextGen America – the largest youth vote org in the country.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org.

*This interview will be recorded on Thursday, February 29, 2024.

Stay Connected
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi