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What Biden and Trump said at their respective border events

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

There was a political showdown on the Texas border today. President Biden and former President Trump were both there separately. Biden went to Brownsville. Trump was a few hundred miles away in Eagle Pass. They were both addressing the surge of migrants crossing into the U.S., both pointing fingers at each other and saying they each have the right solution. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is following the back-and-forth. Hello again, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Let's start with Trump. He was the first to land in the state. What did he have to say?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, he painted a very apocalyptic picture of the situation, basically describing it as a war and praising Texas for treating this like a military operation. There was a lot of law enforcement imagery. He was flanked by the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, and members of the National Guard. Now, he blamed Biden's policies for the problems on the border and claimed Biden was responsible for what he describes as a rash of crimes involving migrants. One of those was the killing of a 22-year-old nursing student in Georgia. An undocumented immigrant from Venezuela has been charged, and Trump said he spoke to the victim's parents yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: They're incredible people. They're devastated beyond belief. But she was beautiful, just so beautiful in so many ways and brutally assaulted, horrifically beaten.

ORDOÑEZ: Trump touted the border policies that he had implemented when he was president, including asylum bans and the border wall, and he actually criticized Biden for dismantling those policies. And he says that's why there is a problem.

KELLY: And speak to which part of Texas he chose to visit. He was at Eagle Pass. Why?

ORDOÑEZ: Eagle Pass is kind of a city on the border in Texas that's turned into the frontlines of this border fight. It's certainly the frontlines in the battle between the Texas governor and the Biden administration. Greg Abbott, the governor, has gone so far as to build a border wall there - a makeshift border wall out of shipping containers and barbed wire. And he actually plans to build a military base there as well that can house National Guard troops.

KELLY: OK. Meanwhile, President Biden was on the ground in Brownsville. What was he hoping to get done today?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. He met with state and federal officials. He got a bit of a tour of the area, and he spoke in front of a large group of Border Patrol agents. He called on Congress to revive something that is actually not on the table right now. And that's a bipartisan plan that would, you know, increase or tighten rules of asylum and give more money to hire more border agents. And he blamed House Republicans and Trump for blocking the measure. And on this point, he spoke directly to Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Join me - or I'll join you - in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill. We can do it together. You know and I know it's the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country has ever seen. So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don't we just get together and get it done?

ORDOÑEZ: And, Mary Louise, I mean, to be frank, he's making a very unrealistic request. But Biden is hoping that one part of that message sticks, and that is that he supports this very tough proposal.

KELLY: It sounds like a lot of theatrics. And I'm curious. Were there any new policies introduced, any new solutions on offer?

ORDOÑEZ: No. I mean, it was a lot of what we've heard before and pointing fingers at each other, like you said. Neither offered any ideas. This was more about messaging for the TV cameras. For Trump, it was, be very afraid. And for Biden, it was, actually, I'm very tough. It's the other guy who's the problem. The issue is that polls show that most Americans disapprove of how Biden is handling the issue. And what he's trying to do is turn the tables on Republicans on one of the - one of his biggest political weak spots.

KELLY: Thank you, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you.

KELLY: NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
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