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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Any Minute: Trump, Biden To Give Competing Border Speeches; Trump Gives Remarks At Border Moments Ahead Of Biden; Awaiting Biden Speech At Border As Trump Makes A Dueling Visit; Biden Speaks In Texas As Trump Makes A Dueling Border Visit. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 29, 2024 - 16:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: A political split screen at the border.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Biden and Donald Trump, both in Texas at this very hour, both trying to blame each other for the crisis at the border. How their competing messages will be received. I'll speak with Republicans and Democrats who represent border towns.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Trump's legal team is pushing back as yet another state has tried to take him off its 2024 ballot.

Also today, we are following the chaos on the coast in Gaza. What the Israeli military is now saying about the more than 100 people believe to have been killed as crowds rush the convoy trying to provide food. (AUDIO GAP) will be here.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Kaitlan Collins, in for Jake Tapper today.

And we start with our breaking news and our national lead, and the split screen that is playing out right before our very eyes. Both president Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, both down at the southern border right now, as immigration is set to be a major or if not the biggest issue in the 2024 election.

Any minute now, we expect to hear from former President Trump. He's in Eagle Pass, Texas after he's been meeting with members of the state's National Guard. Eagle Pass, you'll recall became the epicenter of that tense standoff between Texas and the federal government last month as they fought over who had jurisdiction over that part of the border. Shortly after Trump speaks, we'll also hear from President Biden. He's in Brownsville, Texas, where he was just briefed by federal border and immigration officials.

And we're told that we can expect him to reiterate his calls for House Republicans to pass a bipartisan border deal.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is traveling with President Biden in Brownsville and CNN's Kristen Holmes is with the Trump campaign in Eagle Pass. Kristen, let me start with you because even before Trump got on his

plane and took this trip day, we saw him repeating those same kind of anti-immigration messages that we heard back in 2016 in 2020.

What do we expect to hear from him shortly on the ground?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, I would say more of the same. He's been operating out of the same immigration playbook since you said in 2015 when he launched his presidential campaign, saying that people coming across the border were bringing drugs and they were rapist. That has not changed really one bit, and that's what we expect to hear today.

We are told that he's going to link a series of crimes that were allegedly committed by migrants to the immigration crisis, as well as that death of a UGA student. That was -- the suspect there is an undocumented Venezuelan migrant. And you should also really (AUDIO GAP), now you pointed that out. This is the focal point of the political aspect (AUDIO GAP) of Donald Trump with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is in a standoff with the Biden administration over who really controls this section of the border, as we know.

Abbott has used state resources to put razor wire on train cars behind me, all along the Rio Grande, as well as on buoys in the middle of the river. He just had a briefing with Abbott, who again, has backed Donald Trump and said that they need Donald Trump's immigration policies.

So we should really expect to see is how Donald Trump believes he is putting out his message. Remember what he's called for already in 2024, if he is elected? Saying that he would have mass deportations, that he would round up and house immigrants, wait for -- waiting for deportation. He would also use law enforcement to help with wide arrests.

COLLINS: Yeah. And Priscilla, you're traveling with President Biden as he'll also there. We're watching both of them on the ground, really a remarkable (AUDIO GAP) this fall, and a potential rematch between the two of them. But for President Biden, you know, he hasn't been to the border in over a year.

What are White House official saying about why he chose today to go down to the southern border?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Kaitlan, they are seeing an opportunity with that Senate border bill that included some of the toughest border security measures that ended up being tanked because of Republicans. There was negotiations within the Senate and with White House officials. But in the end, it didn't move forward and the White House sees an opportunity here to hammer Republicans over that, saying that this could have been a solution, and that Republicans walked away from it.

So we are here in the Brownsville border patrol station. I'm keeping a low voice because we are expecting President Biden to walk through those doors any minute now where he will be briefed by federal immigration officials. You'll also see Border Patrol behind me. They have lined up against the wall.

So this is really remarkable for a White House that had distance itself from the border security issue. For years, this administration has grappled with multiple surges along the U.S.-Mexico border over the last few years. Sources tell me that conversations were always tense within the White House when this issue came up.

But now with the Republicans having tanked this border bill, the president is leaning in and that is what were going to expect from his remarks today, is him going after them and saying, look, there could have been a solution here and you didn't sign onto it.


And so, that is what the met the message that we're anticipating we're going to hear now and in the months to come.

COLLINS: Well, Kristen, given that, given Priscilla's reporting about what President Biden is going to say -- I mean, Republicans have historically had the edge when it comes to immigration. They're seen as being tougher on immigration, but given, you know, House Republicans just stood in the way of that bipartisan Senate deal, really at the direction of former President Donald Trump, some of them outright saying it was -- because it was a political issue that he wanted to run on in 2024. I mean, how did they -- how do they spin that?

HOLMES: Well, if you look at recent polling, it actually shows that despite that, many Republicans and many voters believe Donald Trump would be harsher when it comes to immigration, that he would be more successful at the border. But we've heard them spinning time and time again is that Biden doesn't actually need to have any kind of border bill passed and said he should just have executive action if you really cared about the border, you would use executive action. That is what we've heard from Republicans.

Also, we've heard from Donald Trump saying it had nothing to do with being political. It was just because it wasn't a good deal, despite the fact that one of the most conservative senators in the Senate was the one negotiating.

But this is going to be a harder climb for them. What I do think when I talk to members, when we talk to people close to the former president, they believed that his messaging is better, than he can convince people that he was better, that he did more for the border, that he is stronger when it comes to the border.

And one thing Donald Trump is good at is messaging, Kaitlan, as you know, and that is what they've really tried to hammer home even with the optics of this trip, even bringing him out, parading him in front of the national guard, kind of setting the scene for what he would say is what he wants his border control to look like if he is reelected back to the White House.

COLLINS: Well, Priscilla, I mean, given that people have looked to see (INAUDIBLE) President Biden can do, do we expect him to announce anything when he's there today?

ALVAREZ: Kaitlan, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was asked that exact question. He said no announcements on executive actions today, but sources do tell me that the White House is considering executive action that would restrict the ability of migrants to claim asylum if they cross the border unlawfully, using an authority that former President Donald Trump also used during his time in office. So the two executive actions might look very different.

But on the same, this just goes to show how the White House is leaning in on an issue that up until this point, they had really kept at a distance and Democratic strategists, I spoke with say that this is the opportunity that they see polling as you heard there from Kristen shows that Americans are seeing this as a top priority in a really important issue to them, this being the issue of immigration. And so, it's not beneficial anymore for Democrats to keep it at a distance.

In fact, Democratic strategist, I spoke with say, President Biden should be embracing it, leaning into it. And not only leaning into it, but also leaning into the enforcement aspect of this. Oftentimes Democrats have talked about immigration reform and protection for DACA recipients and Dreamers. But now were hearing a message that is very border security centric, and that's actually what were expecting to hear from the president today. And really again, could sort of outline what the next few months look like, not only for the president, but for Democrats who are running in other races.

COLLINS: Priscilla Alvarez with the president in Brownsville, Kristen Holmes with the former president in Eagle Pass, we'll be waiting for those remarks from them.

And, of course, just as President Biden and Donald Trump are visiting the border, we've also just heard from a federal judge who is blocking that enforcement of that controversial Texas immigration law. It would essentially empower law enforcement in the state to arrest and detain anyone that they suspected of entering the country illegally. It caused a lot of uproar from immigration advocates.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in the border, is on the border in Eagle Pass.

Rosa, you -- what was the judge's rationale for this injunction which essentially blocks this order for now.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the judge said is that he rejected the arguments made by the state of Texas that migrants crossing the border illegally is a, quote, invasion. He rejected that. He upheld precedent saying that immigration is a federal function.

Here's what the judge said in part, quote: Surges in immigration do not constitute an invasion within the meaning of the Constitution or as Texas engaging in war by enforcing, as before he goes on to say, if allowed to proceed as before, could open the door to each state passing its own version of immigration laws as before, threatens the fundamental notion that the United States must regulate them ration with one voice. Governor Greg Abbott, of course, speaking out disagreeing, saying that

the state of Texas has constitutional authority for doing all of this. He issued a statement saying in part, quote, Texas has the right to defend itself because of President Biden's ongoing failure to fulfill his duty to protect our state from the invasion at our southern border, even from the bench, this district judge acknowledged that this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. There's also been an outpouring of reaction from across the state. There was actually a protest earlier today, we have video of it.


This was in south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Now you got to think about this, the state of Texas is about 40 percent Latino. And the fear of the enforcement of this law is that it will lead to discrimination.

Now, a civil rights organization and many organizations have issued statements. Here's one saying, in part, quote, what today's decision, the court sent a clear message to Texas: SB4 is unconstitutional and criminalizes Black, Brown, Indigenous, and immigrant communities and immigrant communities will not be tolerated.

And, Kaitlan, Governor Greg Abbott has posted multiple posts on X, saying that the fight is not over. And if you know Governor Greg Abbott, you know that it's not over until it's over. He's going to continue with the fight here on the southern border.

Kaitlan, back to you.

COLLINS: Yeah. We'll continue to track that closely.

Rosa Flores, thank you for that report.

Here with me now, is Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas, who represents the border community of El Paso and its surrounding areas.

Congresswoman, it's great to have you here on a day like this, but let me just first get your reaction to what we just heard Rosa report there about this judge, with this preliminary injunction on that state law that is known as SB4. I knew that you are an opponent to that.

What do you make of what the judge has decided here?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Thanks so much, Kaitlan. Really appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.

I agree with the judge, as do a number of legal scholars, advocates, border residents. We know that what Governor Greg Abbott was trying to do was not just immoral, but it was unconstitutional. We are already in communities like my own, seeing egregious civil rights abuses because of his Operation Lone Star and SB4 would have been a huge expansion of that that would have led to really some more our significant targeting of minority communities. So it's a reprieve for now. I agree with a judge that this likely will

go all the way to the Supreme Court, but we are hoping that justice will prevail.

COLLINS: Well, watch to see, of course, if it does go to the Supreme Court. I mean, obviously, they have a lot on their hands as we've been talking about in recent days. But, you know, what we're looking at right now with President Biden there on the border, former President Trump as well.

I should note President Biden is in Brownsville. This is his first visit to the border in 13 months. Do you believe that he should be visiting the border more often given how high of an issue it is on Americans' minds?

ESCOBAR: I was so proud to travel with President Biden last year to my community of El Paso. I think its great that he is going to today, but the president has not been has not necessarily had to be at the border to understand what's happening. Many of us have shared with him as has Secretary Mayorkas, and others about the great challenge that has existed. And I have to say, Kaitlan, it's existed since before President Biden was in office.

When Donald Trump was president, I led a number of congressional delegations to El Paso so that people could understand the great challenge that we faced, and the need for congressional action. You know, what we have seen over the last two decades has been an effort, a concerted and successful effort by Republicans to basically limit, and in fact deny any kind of congressional action.

We saw it in 2006. We saw in 2014, in 2018, again this year, 2024. Every time Congress has been poised to act on what normally has been a combination of border security and immigration reform, it's been Republicans who blocked it and prevented any action. So the humanitarian crisis that many communities have seen to this day is a direct result of congressional inaction, but mostly led by Republicans who blocked that action.

COLLINS: But I wonder what you make of where President Biden chose to go today. I mean, is he really seeing the biggest challenge in Brownsville, that the border is seeing?

Actually, Congresswoman, standby for one moment. We do have the foreign president speaking right now at the Southern border.

All right. We are waiting for President Trump. Now, we have the audio.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDTATE: -- their governor hasn't done a thing and the governor in California hasn't done a thing. People are flowing through there like nothing, but Texas is very secure and is going to be even more secure by the time you finished, which will be soon.

And I just want to thank some friends of mine. Brandon Judd has been a friend from day one, knew what we were all about and knew what we were saying and doing. And I think we were ahead of our time. And General Thomas Salazar was somebody that was always right there and understands this Texas military department about as well as he could have.


I think he understands war because that's what you're in. You're in a war.

And William Mike Gorby (ph), you know, he is an -- he's been fantastic is just an incredible group that you've put together. Fortunately, I might ask Brandon to say a couple of words because right at the beginning we were we are into it. We saw what was happening and the governor was there and then he really -- he really stepped it up. It's been amazing.

I came when I was lucky enough to receive his endorsement. I endorsed him also and very proudly endorse them and a lot of things have happened in the last little while, but this is an incredible operation.

Brandon, would you like to say a couple of words? Please?


Mr. President, thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you.

JUDD: Sir, I want you to know, your agents, my agents, they're mad as hell, absolutely mad that President Biden went to Brownsville, Texas, rather than going to Arizona, rather than going to San Diego, California, rather than coming to Eagle Pass, Texas, which has been the epicenter.

What President Trump has seen right here is he's seen how his policies have worked, but he's also seen how he can expand upon those policies once he takes -- goes back into the White House. He has seen how Governor Abbott has been able to use his policies to secure this specific area, the epicenter of the last two years of the illegal border crisis that we have had to endure.

And your agents, President, they are pissed. Border Patrol agents are upset that we cannot get the proper policy that is necessary to protect human life, to protect American citizens, to protect the people that are crossing the border illegally. We want to protect them as well, and we can't do that because President Biden's policies continue to invite people to cross here.

Thank goodness we have a governor like Governor Abbott. Thank goodness we have somebody that's willing to run for president of the United States, forgo everything else that he's been doing to serve the American people.

President, thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

The reports have come out and we've been covering them and everybody's been and I spoke to the parents of an incredible young lady and you saw her at the other day, you saw what happened the other day in Georgia and the parents are devastated, they're incredible people. But this is a Joe Biden invasion.

This is a Biden invasion over the past three years I call them crooked Joe because he's crooked and he's a terrible president, worst president our country's ever had, and probably the most incompetent president we've ever had. But it's allowing thousands and thousands of people to come in from China, Iran, Yemen, the Congo, Syria, and a lot of other nations, many nations are not very friendly to, as he's transported the entire columns of fighting age men and they're all at a certain age and you look at him. I said they look like warriors to me. Something's going on that's bad.

Now, the United States is being overrun by the Biden migrant crime. It's a new form of vicious violation to our country. It's migrant crime. We call it Biden migrant crime, but that's a little bit long. So, we'll just leave it.

But every time you hear the term migrant crime, you know where that comes from, allowing thousands and thousands, and actually millions and millions of people that come -- could be 15 million, could be 18 million by the time he gets out of office because hopefully, the biggest risk we have is nine months. That's a long time. A lot of bad things can happen.

They always say in speeches and rallies, it's -- if you take the ten worst presidents in the history of our country, you added them all up, all of the problems, all of the lousy jobs they've done, you can add them all up. It's not as bad as this one man has done for our country. What he's done to our countries is he's destroying our country.

We were just talking before. We were -- the general was saying, I can't believe -- he can't believe what's happening. They can't believe. It's so sad.

Last year, almost half of all ICE arrests were criminal aliens charged for more than 33,000 assaults, 3,000 robberies 6,900 burglaries, 7,500 weapons crimes, this is all migrant crime, 4,300 sex crimes, 1,600 kidnappings and 1,700 homicides and murders. These are the people that are coming into our country and they're coming from jails and they're coming from prisons and they're coming from mental institutions and they're coming from insane asylums. And they are terrorists.

They're being let into our country and it's horrible.


It's horrible. And, you know, I know many of the leaders of these other countries that are doing it, and it's not just South America. It's all over the world. The Congo, a very big population coming in from jails for the Congo. You look at the jails now, you take a look at the jails throughout the region, but more importantly, throughout the world. They're emptying out because they're dumping them into the United States.

And these guys try and make like, oh, is it wonderful? They don't have a clue. I think they're looking for votes. They're looking for something.

Nobody's really been able to tell me how anybody could want it (ph). You know, you're always in business. You always want to understand the other side. You want to figure it out so you can do something that's good or bad, depending on what you're looking for.

But nobody can explain to me because everybody I speak to says how horrible it is. Nobody explained to me how allowing millions of people from places unknown from countries unknown, who don't speak languages.

We have languages coming into our country. We have nobody that even speak those languages. They're truly foreign languages. Nobody speaks them.

And they're pouring into our country and they're bringing with them tremendous problems, including medical problems as you know, we had Title Two and we had different things to solve that problem, but they've terminated all of that.

Even the judge couldn't believe it. The judge said, no, no, you can't do that. It would be horrible to do that and he let it go, and -- but he said in six months it expires and it expired and that's it.

So I just think you're doing an incredible job.

Just one week ago, a beautiful 22-year-old nursing student from Georgia was barbarically attacked, almost unrecognizable, while she was out on her morning run. She was on her morning run. She was doing -- keep herself in shape. She was a beautiful young woman. She was a great person, best nursing student there was.

I spoke to her parents yesterday. 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, kidnapped, and savagely murdered.

The monster that charged -- charged in the death is an illegal alien migrant who was let into our country and released into our communities by crooked Joe Biden. He's crooked. I took the name away from Hillary because she's no longer relevant, I guess. She was terrible, but he is -- what he is doing is just unbelievable.

Joe Biden will never say Laken Riley's name, but we will say it and we will remember. We're not going to forget her. It's been just a horrible story that we've had to live with for the last few days. It's hard to believe.

And her parents are just -- they can never be the same. Great people.

Just four days ago, an illegal alien in Louisiana was arrested for brutally raping a 14-year-old girl while holding a knife to her throat and he then allegedly robbed a man who was getting out of his car in front of his home and repeatedly stabbed him in the face, in the back, in the face many, many times before police found this person standing in the middle of a street, all covered with blood, standing over the blood of the man he was attacking.

Last year, a sadistic illegal alien criminally was released into our country by Joe Biden, was arrested for raping an 11-year-old girl and strangling her to death in Pasadena, Texas. Then shortly before she was murdered, she texted her father that someone was knocking at the door. He arrived home from work and found his daughter's body stuffed in a laundry basket underneath the bed. Horrible.

Crooked Joe has the blood of countless innocent victims. It's so many stories to tell, so many horrible stories.

Three years ago, we had the most secure border in history. Brandon was saying it. The general was saying it. We had the most secure border and people weren't coming because they knew they weren't going to get in.

And we weren't promising free education, free medical, free everything. I mean, all the promises that are made. No wonder they come. I mean, you look at what this governor, Newscum (ph) from California -- isn't that his name, Newscum?

What he's done to California is unbelievable. People are pouring in. They think they're going to get medical aid. And our soldiers, our vets aren't being taken care of, but people that come into our country illegally are.

We ended catch and release. We built 571 miles of border wall, much more than I promised I'd build. And in addition, we purchased another 200 miles and they sold that, much of it for $0.05 on the dollar and just the best wall -- the same wall that you're using because the governor is now building a lot of wall also.

And it works. Walls work. Walls and wheels, I always said, it's one thing never gets obsolete, a wall and a wheel. Everything else is obsolete about two weeks after you come up with it.

And we got Mexico to give us 28,000 soldiers to take care of our border. We have the safest border in the history of our country. And now outside of this area where Texas has done an amazing job and in a pretty short period of time, they're going to have it all covered.


They have just been incredible. What the -- the operation that they showed me is nothing less than incredible. And I'll say this -- it's a military operation. I mean, we have mili - this is like a war. It's a military operation.

So we had "remain in Mexico". Remember that? You can't come into our country and Mexico agreed to it, and I tell you someday, I'll tell you why. Safe third agreements, asylum bans, Title 42 and rapid removals. But Title 42 was so important, rapid removal so important. But the best was "remain in Mexico", you stay in Mexico. We had catch- and-release in Mexico. We had catch before that. It was catch-and- release a criminal and they released him in the United States.

We had no more catch-and-release. Our catch-and-release was we released them in Mexico. And if you broke the law, we caught you, we deported you or we did something else.

But we were doing a great job and that's where it stood and then we had an election that we ended up getting many millions of more votes than we did. We did much better in 2020 than we ever even thought about doing in 2016. And very bad things happen.

And from that moment on, it was a whole different ball game in Texas and all over. But the governor of Texas picked up the ball and they've done an incredible job. And I'll tell you, it's an honor to be here. I've brought some people here, some executives from New York because they're marveling at it, too.

And you're doing your job. Now we have to find out what's going on on the side, each side because Arizona is not doing their job. You have a Democrat liberal or more than that governor that probably doesn't want to do anything. So people are just pouring in through Arizona and they are pouring in through the beautiful state, the once beautiful state, still beautiful I guess, but they have a lot of crime and a lot of problems, California, because the governor is not doing his job in California. He's doing a terrible job.

He talks a good game. You know, he talks about how wonderful things are, but he's wrong and they have a big outflow of people. People that pay taxes. People that don't commit crime, they're leaving -- a lot of them are leaving.

So I just want to thank the governor. I want to thank this incredible group of talent behind me and we just went through -- we just went through something very, very special. We did a tour and we did it through all sorts of cameras. They're all over the place. I don't know. They're in the sky. They're in satellites. They're on the top of those light poles. They're all over the place.

And you really have it done --

COLLINS: And you have been listening to former President Donald Trump. He is in Eagle Pass today and, of course, he is there at the time that President Biden is also on the ground.

We are waiting to hear from President Biden. We're going to take those remarks live.

But as we do after every Trump's speech, it seems we have to have a series of fact checks because at multiple times and just those brief remarks there, he made several lies. He told several lies about the border. Also misrepresented his own past on the border in what he did while he was in office.

CNN's Daniel Dale is here, our resident fact check reporter. Daniel, obviously, we've been listening to this, just writing down

several of the things that he said that weren't true in there. First off is the one that he has claimed repeatedly that I know you personally tried to fact check, which is that there are people from jails and mental institutions that are being emptied, and those people are coming across the border, something that the Trump campaign has never been able to provide any evidence of, yet he still repeats it almost every time he talks about the border.

He does Kaitlan.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: He does, Kaitlan. I asked the Trump campaign, what is the evidence that unnamed foreign leaders are emptying out their institutions, their jails, sending people here as migrants, they couldn't come up with anything.

I also took some notes. He said that we see columns of fighting age men, they look like warriors. There are zero basis, Kaitlan, for this idea that unnamed foreign countries are surreptitiously using migrants to assemble some sort of anti-U.S. fighting force.

You hear this on the far right. Even if you think that many migrants are economic migrants rather than true asylum claimants, that's not an army. It's just nonsense.

He talked about a supposed new form of crime under President Biden. He says, new migrant -- you know, it's migrant crime. Look, some undocumented people have committed crimes under every president, under President Trump. Again, under President Biden, we have had some high- profile recent tragic cases, but every piece of data, all goods studies show that undocumented people, like other immigrants, commit crimes at lower rates than native born Americans.

He told the story that he's told before well, Kaitlan, about people arriving speaking languages that no ones ever heard. He said in a previous, recent speech, we didn't even have one translator who could understand this language. This, I've looked into this, seems to be just conjured out of thin air. It's nonsense.

He also said that maybe these people are being led in because they presumably -- the Biden administration is looking for votes. I think you can make a convoluted case that, you know, one day, people could be turned in -- naturalized, turning to citizens, citizens then could vote.

But I think it's important to remind people that undocumented people like other non-citizens cannot vote at present.


And then finally, former President Trump also repeated his frequent claim that he built 571 miles of wall. We have official figures on that. It is 458 miles, much of which its important to note is replacement barrier, replacing barriers that previously existed, not covering parts of the border that had no barriers in the past.

COLLINS: None of which Mexico also paid for, which was another pledge of his and something that he brings up.

The other thing he seemed to suggest was that 10 million people are illegally going they come in the country in the next nine months, that something that just has zero basis whatsoever.

DALE: Yeah. I mean, as fact check man, I tried to stay away from fact-checking predictions because theoretically anything could happen. But that number certainly would far exceed the pace we've seen even while seeing record levels under President Biden.

COLLINS: Daniel Dale, thank you as always for being on standby to fact check that.

I also want to bring back a conversation that we were having right before we went to former President Trump. Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who has been very patient waiting for us.

And, Congresswoman, I will warn you, of course, we are seeing President Biden get a speech right now. We expect to hear from him in a little bit.

But on the question that we were talking about, there, which is where President Biden is. He's in Brownsville, Texas. You just heard the head of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd criticizing Biden for being there in Brownsville, for not being closer to Tucson, Arizona, which is where the number one migrant issue is happening. Of course, the most crossings, Congresswoman, were you to make sure that we can get your connection, that it is here.

But I should know what Brandon Judd was saying. He was criticizing Biden for being in Brownsville and for not being in the Tucson sector. I should note, Trump was standing right there at Eagle Pass. He's also nowhere near Tucson where the height of this issue is.

But on President Biden, given you're a Democrat, what do you make of where he decided to go today?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Kaitlan, you're right. I mean, Mr. Judge should have criticized Donald Trump as well for being in Texas and not Arizona. The fact of the matter is really many of the migrant pathways end up shifting over time.

You know, Arizona right now is definitely where the highest number of encounters are. But recently it was Texas. And in fact, Mr. Judd mentioned that Eagle Pass was the number one, the epicenter -- no, El Paso, Texas, actually was the number one area for apprehensions and encounters last year.

We've seen a shift recently in Texas, not because of what Greg Abbott is doing. And I think that's really important to say that much of what Greg Abbott is doing has not worked necessarily. But in fact, it was the president's collaboration with Mexico and Mexico engaging in its enforcement activities that shifted a lot of the movement away from Texas into other states.

But it could very well ship back. I think -- I'm sorry. Go ahead COLLINS: Congresswoman. Sorry, you're shot is having a few technical

issues. I just want to say, Congresswoman, we do appreciate your patience. Thank you for standing by. We'll bring you back soon once we can get that restored.

Also with us still, Kristen Holmes, who is traveling with the former president, was there in Eagle Pass as he is speaking.

And, Kristen, I just think one thing that stood out to me beyond the fact that they're criticizing Biden for not being closer to the center of this crisis while they are themselves are in Eagle Pass and not also close to it is Trump was standing there talking about the lack of action on immigration, but its notable because he in what's going on at the border, he's the one who blocked, who urged House Republicans to stand in the way of that bipartisan Senate bill that would have addressed a lot of these issues that had money for more border wall.

It would have tightened asylum claims. It would have maybe not done everything Republicans wanted, but it would have done something.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Kaitlan, I mean, this is going to be the back-and-forth, back-and-forth that we hear between Democrats and Republicans, in between Trump and Biden, probably the narrative that's going to carry us through to November. Biden is going to blame Trump for blocking that bill, which is entirely true.

Donald Trump came out publicly against the border bill. He was pressuring during senators both publicly and privately, not to back the bill. I think one point he said that Republican senators who backed the bill, you know, had a problem or something along those lines. I mean, he's being very overt about how he felt about this.

So that part is true. The other part of this is that he continues to say that Biden could take executive action. That's also true. There are a number of executive actions that Joe Biden could take.

This is just more of the push poll that were going to see leading up to November, and they both politicize this issue. Now, one thing I want to point out here is what we heard in that speech. That was true and we heard Daniel Dale mentioning it -- these crimes, there's been a series of high-profile crimes linked to immigration, that is true.

And all the data shows that the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants is much lower than crimes committed by others. But there have been some high profile crimes.


You are going to continue to see Donald Trump seizing on that from now until November. He uses fear stoking rhetoric. He uses divisive rhetoric to try and garner votes, to try to talk about the issue of immigration by essentially saying that not only are they going to take your jobs, which is something he said in Michigan to union workers, but they're going to harm your family and that is what he said in 2015 and he's going to continue to say now. It's also part of his rhetoric on what he would do if he was in

office. Again, things like mass deportations, rounding up migrants and putting them into detention centers essentially, before deporting them, all of which, by the way would likely get stopped out by a number of legal law lawsuits. Before that, I got anywhere near being implemented. But these are the kind of things that he says that get people to back him because they are afraid.

COLLINS: Yeah. It's a tried and true tactic that he used in 2016. We saw it took him to the White House in part.

Kristen, the other thing that stood out though, is listening to Brandon Judd, who clearly is supporting Donald Trump. He was heavily critical of President Biden's -- President Biden's handling of the border, but he is someone who on this bill that Trump helped tank, he was actually supportive of it. He thought it would have been a good bill and would have helped what they're seeing on the border.

HOLMES: Kaitlan, I don't want to say that politicians go back on their word and I don't want to say that he's only doing this because Donald Trump is next to him. But I think two things can be true at once. I think he probably was very supportive of the bill. I have no reason to doubt that.

I also know that he sees this every day and there were a number of things if implemented that would help stem the migrant crisis. We know that. These were things that Republicans themselves were publicly fighting for and have been fighting for, for a number of years.

But as you said, he is also clearly supporting former President Donald Trump. But if he's going to stand up there next to him, he's not going to support the same bill and that's really what we saw from Republicans across the board. We had so many Republicans who are publicly supporting the bill only to quietly pull back, pull back, pull back, and then eventually not vote.

It was really remarkable to see, but not that surprising, particularly as we've seen, Donald Trump and inched towards nomination, it looks as though he's very likely to be the Republican nominee. And we've seen the Republican Party coalesce behind him and the border bill is just no different.

HOLMES: Kristen Holmes in Eagle Pass, we'll continue to monitor former President Trump on the ground there.

We are also standing by for President Biden, who is set to speak any moment in Brownsville, Texas, where he's just been briefed by federal officials. We'll take those remarks live when they happen.

As we wait, I want to bring in former Republican Congressman Will Hurd, who represented a district on the majority of Texas's border with Mexico, and is well-versed in all of these issues.

Congressman, can I just first get your reaction to what you heard from Donald Trump and also just the criticism that he's not near -- the Bidens not going near Tucson where it's the height of this crisis, but also Trump isn't going there either today.

WILL HURD (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: So I think what you heard is what you're going to hear if he is the nominee for the rest of the election. Some of it was just incorrect. I take your fact checker had it right.

When Donald Trump is president, he deported less people than President Obama. Of the new wall that was built, it was less than 50 miles. The rest of that was existing.

I mean, it was his policies that started this crisis and it was in Joe Biden is continuing this and has made this crisis significantly worse than it was under Donald Trump. And the reality about the border is it changes day by day. And so a place that may be quiet one day is going to get become a place where there's a lot of traffic and a lot a lot of action and a lot of problems.

And so -- so that's the reality of the border. And unfortunately, I think what Americans saw was that this is -- Donald Trump continued to complain about a problem, not providing the solutions that we need to solve this. The fact that it was key was the one that killed the bill and the Senate that could have gotten some help. More needs to be done. And this is -- this is not normal. 5.6 million people coming into our country illegally under President Biden is not normal.

I mean, I think Americans want to return to normalcy, and that's why I hope on Super Tuesday more people pulled -- pull the lever for Nikki Haley because she (AUDIO GAP) a governor, you know, how to solve problems. She's --


COLLINS: Congressman Hurd, we are checking your connection. I think we lost you briefly. I should note what we are watching right now is President Biden, he is being briefed by officials on the ground there in Brownsville, Texas, his first trip to the border, in about 13 months, as you see him there meeting with officials.


We can hear him speaking. Let's listen to and see if we can hear the word here.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I was able to get one point -- one billion, $1,200,000,000,000 bill passed that has infrastructure money in it. It could be a game-changer. And here, we're still scratching our heads like, what are we going to do?

I just admire your -- not only your courage and your intellect and your judgment, but that's your role that keep at this, so understaffed. No, I really mean it. It's incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's one time, one fight, sir.

BIDEN: I know it's one team, one fight. Easy to all the sayings are worth saying, but I'll tell you what, getting it done is a lot harder. I think the American people should know, just how much a combination

of risk, work and dedication there is been trying to get this done.

COLLINS: You're listening there to President Biden. He's just been meeting with officials at a CBP official and other immigration officials. He was just briefed by them.

We are going to hear from all remarks from the president on the southern border in these dueling appearances as he is there. And not far away, about 300 miles away, former President Trump is on the ground in Eagle Pass. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with those remarks in just a moment.


COLLINS: Before we start, I'd like to say a few words about the devastating wildfires that are scorching Texas panhandle and northwest Oklahoma.

You know, yesterday the biggest fire events --

COLLINS: I'm going to go to for -- to President Biden who is speaking after we heard from former President Trump on the southern border in Brownsville, Texas.

BIDEN: From the start, I directed my team to do anything possible to help protect the people and the communities threatened by these fires. In response to specific requests from the state, we've already had more than 500 federal personnel here working on fire suppression. That includes the deployment of 100 federal firefighters and more on the way, as well as dozens of additional fire engines, air tankers, small planes, helicopters to help fight the flames.

And FEMA has already guaranteed that Texas and Oklahoma will be reimbursed for the cost of keeping folks safe, and we're grateful for the brave first responders, risking their lives to save others. And we urge -- we urge folks to listen to the warnings from local official officials, to listen to them.

I've flown over law these wildfires since I've been president. As matter of fact, I've been helicopter in the west and the southwest and northwest, flown over more land, burned to the ground, all the vegetation gone than entire state of Maryland in square footage.

The idea there's no such thing as climate change, I love that, man. I love some of Neanderthal friends, who still think there's no climate change. Well, my administration going to keep building on the progress we've made fighting climate crisis and we're going to keep help folks rebuild themselves in the wake of these disasters.

And we rebuild to the standards that are up the up-to-date standards and building codes and the rest, because a lot of your -- if you fly over these areas that are burned to the ground, you'll see in the midst of 20 homes that are just totally destroyed, one home sitting there because at the right roof on it. And, anyway, since I took office, FEMA provided Texas alone over $13 billion, $13 billion to three years in disaster relief, after fires and winter storms across the state. When disaster strike, there's no red state or blue state where I come from, or just communities and families looking for help. So we're standing with everyone, everyone affected by these wildfires. I'm going to continue to help her respond and recover.

Now, turning to the purpose of my visit. I want to thank Congressman Gonzalez, there you go, pal. I thank you --


I thank you for the passport into his district, but he's been a great partner.

I also want to thank Merrick Collins (ph) for his partnership. And I want to thank County Judge Trevino, I -- for over 30, and over 30 local officials who've joined us here today.

No one -- no one works harder for a safe, secure border than all of you and Secretary Mayorkas has joined us today and he's joined by seven mayors and cities and towns across south Texas.


Four county judges here from across the state -- I was told the county judge that I used to be a county official. It's the hardest job in American politics. You know why? I think you do everything, you don't have the budget. So anyway.

And the two leaders in Texas legislature, statehouse leader Trey Martinez Fischer and the state Senate leader Carol Alvarado and it looked and all the other local officials that are here today, I want to say thanks.

Folks, it's real simple. It's time to act, it's long past time to act. I just received a briefing from the Border Patrol at the border as well as immigration enforcement, asylum officers, and they're all doing incredible work under really tough conditions. Really tough because you they told me what they what you already know and we already know. They desperately need more resources.

Say it again, they desperately need more resources, need more agents, more officers, more judges, more equipment in order to secure our border. Folks, it's time for us to move on this. We can't wait any longer. Folks in my first day as president, I introduced a bill I sent to Congress a comprehensive plan to fix the broken immigration system and to secure the border.

But no action was taken. Then months ago, my team began a serious negotiation in a bipartisan group of senators, Democratic -- leading conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats, it resulted in a compromise bill. It's the toughest set of border security reforms we've ever seen in this country. It's pretty basic. With this deal, we could hire 1,500 additional border security, 1,500 additional officers -- and officers. And between ports of entry for the last four years, staffing has been roughly that flat. It's flat. Agents working overtime, spending long hours patrolling the border, making major sacrifices. And I know it takes a big toll on them and their families.

That's why in December, I signed a bill finally getting border patrol agents what I've been pushed by, and reminded by the congressman, overtime pay they deserved, finally getting overtime pay. I mean, it's ridiculous it took this long.

It was long past time and I was proud to do it, but we need to do more. It's time to step up. It's time to step up, provide them with significantly more personnel, and capability. We also need more immigration judges to help handle the backlog, 2 million cases, backlog of 2 million cases.

That is bipartisan deal would provide funding for 100 more immigration judges immediately, will also establish new efficient and fair process for the government to consider asylum claims for those arriving at our border. Today, the process to get a decision on asylum claim takes five to seven years.

You all know it down here, but the people around the country don't understand it. It's far too long to command you say, you say I have a credible fear and we've changed that standard, make it hard. We want to change, make it harder.

And what happens to say, well, okay, you come in the country but come back in five to seven years. Maybe as many as eight years and you'd get a hearing from before a judge determined whether you can stay.

This will encourage more people. This encourages more people to come to the contrary if they get by the first -- they got another five, seven, eight years before they have to do anything because they know they cannot handle the case loads quickly. And there'll be able to stay in this country in the meantime.

The new policies in this bill and additional 4,300 additional asylum officers, will be able to reduce that process to less than six months. That would have a serious deterrent effect on those coming north.

When a criminal gangs say we'll get you north, what's 8,000 bucks? They say, in a way, let me get this straight I'm going to go north. It's going to cost me six, eight and probably more closer to eight, I guess thousand dollars equivalent, and I'm going to get there. And in six months, they may be able to get rid of me.

I don't know, man. Six months, seven years, two different things. The person who's thinking about entering United States understands the cases to be decided in a few weeks or months instead of five to seven years, they're less likely to come in the first place. They're not going to pay the cartels thousands of dollars to make that journey, knowing that will be turned around quickly Look, and we also need more cutting-edge inspection machines to detect

and stop fentanyl a manner in the United States of America a year ago, I stood at the border in El Paso and I watched these machines that work. They were able to detect everything from fentanyl to weapons to people being smuggled in cargo containers. This -- this compromise bill would provide an additional $424 million for 100 more of these machines, and can save lives in the process.


This compromised legislation will also give me as president and are any of the next president emerged as an authority to temporarily shut down the border between ports of entry, when the numbers of immigrants and migrants -- excuse me -- overwhelm the border, started -- straining the border patrol's ability to process them.

At the same time, at our legal ports of entry like here in Brownsville, we're making investments in infrastructure. My bipartisan infrastructure law is going to provide nearly $4 billion new dollars to boost security, to ease waiting times, at land, and ports of entry like Brownsville. And I want to thank again, Congressman Gonzalez, helped me to get that through and get the past, was the law, that you get the money for the exact -- that's how you got the money for the gateway bridge, from that fund.

Folks, the bipartisan border security deal as a win for the American people. That's a win for the people of Texas. And it's fair for those legitimately have a right to come here to begin with. So when for the people of Brownsville and I believe that's why the border patrol union endorsed it, I believe that's why the National Chamber of Commerce and that's the chamber commerce endorsed, not known as the Democratic organization within the capital D.

Look, and that's why the Wall Street Journal endorsed it as well. This is a truly bipartisan initiative. That's why the bipartisan south Texas alliance of cities endorsed it.

Folks, I didn't get -- I didn't get everything I wanted in that compromise bipartisan bill, but neither did anybody else. A compromise is part of the process. That's how democracy works. That's how it's supposed to work.

Compromise is a very positive step on a critical issue for the country, all those issues for the country. And folks here in Brownsville and all along the border know that. We need to have their backs, your backs. I want the people to understand clearly what happened here.

This bill was in the United States Senate, was on its way to being passed, then it was derailed by rank and file politic -- rank partisan politics. The U.S. Senate needs to reconsider this bill and those senators who oppose it need to set politics aside and pass it on the merits. Not on whether it's going to benefit one party or benefit the other party. It's about whether it benefits the American people. It's what the American people deserve. The speaker of the House needs to put this bill on the floor because he put it on the floor on the floor unrestricted, it would pass. The majority of Democrats and Republicans both houses support this legislation until someone came along and said, don't do that. It will benefit the incumbent.

That's a hell of a way to do business in America for such a serious problem. We need to act. It's time for the speakers and some of my Republican friends in Congress who were blocking this bill to show a little spine, pass a bipartisan border -- bipartisan -- as another -- remember, bipart -- conservative leaders supported this border security bill.

Let's remember who we worked for, for God's sake. We worked for the American people.

Let me end with this. I understand my predecessor is in Eagle Pass today. So here's what I would say to Mr. Trump -- instead of playing politics of the issue, instead of telling members of Congress to block this legislation, 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? Let's remember who the heck who work for.

We work for the American people, not to Democratic Party, the Republican Party. We work for the American people.

Unless you remember who we are, we're the United States of America. No, I mean this. Just think about this -- there's nothing, nothing beyond our capacity, nothing when we work together. And if all things we should be working together on this, we have the formula to get it done.

God bless you all. And may God protect our Border Patrol and God protect our troops. Now, I'd like to turn this over to Secretary Mayorkas. Thank you.


COLLINS: And you have been listening there to President Biden speaking in Brownsville, Texas. You're now hearing from the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as they are making President Biden for him, his first visit to the border in about 13 months.

You see there, border patrol officials standing behind him. He just was briefed by federal officials and the main point of his message there was calling on lawmakers to pass some legislation to address what is happening on the border.

Of course, this comes after we saw Democrats and Republicans in the Senate negotiate that bill. That was then blocked by House Republicans who criticized the bill, flooded part by former President Donald Trump who is also in Texas, about 300 miles from where President Biden is just speaking there in Brownsville.


Part of what President Biden said was he was essentially arguing that he can understand why lawmakers can pass something on infrastructure in a bipartisan way, but not when it comes to immigration.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez was in the room as President Biden was making those remarks.

And, Priscilla, just in and of itself, it is notable that President Biden is there. This is an administration including the vice president that once said, these kinds of border visits were grand gestures, more like photo-ops but now you see, obviously this is an issue that is vulnerable and weak for President Biden. He is there saying, I'm the one putting the solutions forward. It's Congress that is standing in the way.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Kaitlan, and that was really the theme of his operational briefing and also his remarks. When the president was briefed by federal immigration officials, he repeatedly came back to all the resources that they were missing, or that they were gone (ph), not enough staff, not technologies.

And it was interesting because he used Republican talking points like talking about fentanyl, or talking about cartels or criminals to make the point that more sources are acquired at the U.S.-Mexico border, and to get them, he needs the help of Congress.

And that was also what his theme during his remarks, where he walks through the Senate border bill, but included, again, Kaitlan, some of the toughest border security measures in recent memory. In fact, the president ticked some of them included saying that its extraordinary emergency authority that would allow the homeland security secretary to struck down the border if certain triggers were met.

That alone, that abrasive of that, it goes show how far this White House has come on this issue and how they have gotten tougher and almost had to given the urgency, given the surges at the U.S.-Mexico, and also as Americans are increasingly more concerned about this particular issue.

But I also want to mention, Kaitlan, that toward the end of his remarks, President Biden called out former President Donald Trump. He didn't name him but he called his predecessor, and he gave him a message and that message he said that is instead of playing politics, or instead of swaying Republicans not to vote for the Senate border bill, that President Biden -- former President Donald Trump should work with them or he would work with former President Donald Trump.

It was a remarkable moment and what it goes to show how much power former President Donald Trump holds with the Republican Party and how they're voting on the Senate border bill, but also President Biden almost trying to be as equally tough on this issue and so, them saying this as a key issue going into this presidential election. So again, the president down here at the Brownsville border patrol

station. Secretary Mayorkas is speaking now, following the president, and they're both really going, hammering at his point that they need more funds for the borders, for the border (INAUDIBLE) and that they need more resources. And all of that goes right back to that border bill that was at -- that the Senate -- that Senate Republicans tanked at the encouragement of former President Donald Trump -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And, Priscilla, the president is still calling on House Speaker Mike Johnson to put that bill on the House floor. He believes that if that if he took that move, that it would pass, but we've heard Speaker Johnson to make clear that he has no plans to do so. So what is the White House's backup plan? I know they'd been talking about executive orders potential and immigration. What is within President Biden's purview? What do they plan to do ahead of the election?

ALVAREZ: There is consideration of an executive action, that way that limits the ability of migrants to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border if they crossed unlawfully. That's what sources tell me. There is still work behind the scenes, with administration attorneys to hammer out whether this is a possibility and it would be anchored in the same authority that former President Donald Trump use.

And, actually, Kaitlan, I can hear homeland security calling out Texas Governor Greg Abbott. And I want to note this because that the governor has done in sending migrants to Democratic-led cities has really changed the calculus of how this White House has had to handle these issues because now it's an issue that is going to the doorsteps of every Democratic-led city, and those cities had been crying out to the White House to do more in the border.

So that is played into all of this calculus. But going back to what the White House is considering, they are considering that executive action, but would the White House officials I talk to, always come back to is that it is a border bill that would enshrine this into law. So even if there is an executive action, it doesn't go as far as the Senate border bill will.

But the same, Kaitlan, clearly the White House here leaning into an issue that they had really tried to keep at a distance for many years.

COLLINS: Yeah, many executive orders were tied up in the courts all the time.

Priscilla Alvarez, we'll let you listen into that and check back in with you.

Daniel Dale is also still here with me.

And, Daniel, you know, we're just talking about former President Trump's remarks on the border. When you listen to what he says and then there's this clear split-screen moment of what is very likely to be a presidential rematch this November. What did you hear in President Biden's remarks? Anything to fact check there?