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The Politics Behind Trump and Biden’s Dueling Border Stops

U.S.The Politics Behind Trump and Biden’s Dueling Border Stops

Americans will get their first look at the likely presidential rematch coming this fall as President Biden and Donald J. Trump make dueling visits to the Texas border on Thursday, a rare convergence on the campaign trail that shows just how volatile and potent a political issue immigration has already become in the 2024 race.

For Mr. Trump, the border is a familiar backdrop and represents almost the background music of his candidacy, as he warns of a nation slipping out of reach and an “invasion” he promises to stop. For Mr. Biden, immigration represents a top vulnerability as border crossings reached record highs in late 2023 and images of mass migration and its fallout have become fixtures on the news.

Republicans have long had an edge politically on the issue, with the G.O.P. advantage swelling even larger of late. In the fall of 2020, Mr. Trump was more trusted on immigration by a sizable 16 percentage points, according to NBC News polling at the time. That margin has more than doubled to 35 percentage points as of this January — the largest advantage either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump had on any of the nine issues tested.

But Biden allies believe the recent decision by Republican congressional leaders — at Mr. Trump’s urging — to abandon a potential bipartisan border deal has provided the party a rare opening to cut into that deficit. The package would have made asylum claims more difficult, expanded detention capacity, increased fentanyl screening and paid for more border officers.

Democrats hope they can draw attention to the package’s failure and contrast Mr. Biden’s pursuit of bipartisanship with Mr. Trump’s belligerence.

“Donald Trump doesn’t want a solution,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a top Biden surrogate, in a call arranged by the Biden campaign before the Texas trip. “He wants a campaign slogan.”

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