Trump doubles down on warnings of 'migrant crime' in border speech

A 2020 study found U.S. citizens commit crime at higher rates, however.

February 29, 2024, 6:33 PM

As former President Donald Trump was touring the Texas border on Thursday, just ahead of remarks in which he denounced rival Joe Biden's handling of immigration and warned of "invasion," he appeared to find an enthusiastic audience -- across the Rio Grande.

"They like Trump, can you believe it? They like me, governor," Trump said as he waved back at a group of people on the Mexico side of the border who could be heard yelling his name.

Not long after, appearing with some border officials and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Trump reiterated an anti-migrant message that is central to his 2024 reelection campaign.

"This is a Joe Biden invasion. This is a Biden invasion over the past three years," Trump contended.

He did not announce any comprehensive immigration policies other than repeating claims about his record as president, instead spending much of the time talking about the recent killing of Georgia college student Laken Riley as police have charged a Venezuelan man whom officials say entered the U.S. illegally in 2022.

Trump said he talked to Riley's family ahead of his visit and suggested Biden was to blame for crimes committed by migrants, claiming Biden has "the blood of countless innocent victims."

"I spoke to the parents of an incredible young lady and ... [they] were devastated. They're incredible people," Trump said, referring to Riley, whom he said was "beautiful in so many ways and brutally assaulted."

"We're not going to forget her," he said. "It's been just a horrible story."

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at Shelby Park during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, on Feb. 29, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at Shelby Park during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, on Feb. 29, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

Trump continued again claiming that criminals are pouring into the southern border, citing various statistics for which he didn't provide sources, and he repeated warnings about what he labeled "migrant crime," which has become a campaign trail trope.

However, that ignores context that U.S. citizens commit crimes at higher rates than unauthorized immigrants, according to a 2020 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In his speech, Trump also used disparaging comments about migrants that speak different languages: "They're truly foreign languages. Nobody speaks them. And they're pouring into our country and they're bringing with them tremendous problems," he insisted.

Trump repeated his rhetoric on his border record while president, exaggerating how he sought to curb the policy of so-called "catch and release," saying that he built more than 500 miles of the border wall (though much of that included upgrades to existing construction) and touting the implementation of Title 42's authority to rapidly remove migrants because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump praised Abbott, saying the governor has "picked up the ball" after him, and Abbott went on to criticize Biden for -- in his words -- not stepping up.

"I am very thankful for the model set by President Trump. President Trump showed that when he was in office, he was able to secure the border," Abbott said.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump and Texas Governor Greg Abbott gesture towards members of the National Guard as Trump visits the U.S.-Mexico border at Eagle Pass, Texas, Feb. 29, 2024.
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump and Texas Governor Greg Abbott gesture towards members of the National Guard as Trump visits the U.S.-Mexico border at Eagle Pass, Texas, Feb. 29, 2024.
Go Nakamura/Reuters

Polling shows immigration is top of mind for some voters, particularly Republicans, with Biden getting historically low ratings on immigration.

The president was in Texas on Thursday, too, setting up a split-screen of sorts -- as he again pushed the Republican-led House to take up a bipartisan Senate border security deal that Trump has criticized as insufficient.

"You know and I know it's the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country's ever seen," Biden said of Trump in his own remarks. "So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don't we just get together and get it done."

ABC News' Armando Garcia and Quinn Owen contributed to this report.

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news