Former President Donald Trump criticized President Joe Biden and his administration for not dealing with issues stemming at the U.S.-Mexico border, promising to “destroy” the cartels he said have been enabled by Biden.
Trump famously pledged to “build a great wall” when announcing his run for president in 2015, adding that Mexico would pat for it. When leaving office, he didn’t build as many miles of wall as initially intended, and he walked back statements that Mexico would “100 percent” pay for it.
Biden visited El Paso, Texas, on Sunday on his way to Mexico City, where he is meeting with other world leaders in response to calls from both the right and the left to properly address an overflow of illegal migrants and drugs entering the U.S.
“So interesting to see that people are talking about the Border,” Trump said in a statement that was posted to Truth Social on Tuesday. “When I was running in 2016, I was the only one talking about it, and then in 2020, there was nothing to talk about because the Border was the best it has ever been.”
He touted a 40-year low in drugs entering the U.S. illegally through Mexico, and “hundreds of miles” of wall built during his presidency. He also called the situation the “biggest bone of contention” along with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, inflation and a turbulent economy, and “everyone being killed in Ukraine.”
Trump ended his statement with: “Biden has allowed the cartels to destroy the Border, and I’ll destroy the cartels!”
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Trump administration built 458 miles of border wall. About 80 miles of primary and secondary barriers along the border—which is estimated to be 1,954 miles—were built in areas where there had been nothing.
On Tuesday, Biden met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. According to a White House readout, the pair reaffirmed their commitment to address irregular migration and its root causes, in addition to the Biden administration’s recently announced pathways for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.
Prior to being joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and discussing issues regarding legal and illegal immigration, the pair traded barbs in front of reporters.
According to NPR, Lopez Obrador told Biden that the U.S. has done little to support development in Latin America since President John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress spending in the early 1960s—described by the Mexican president as “the only important thing, really” that has been done in 50 years in regards to cooperation for development.
“This is the moment for us to determine to do away with this abandonment, this disdain and this forgetfulness for Latin America and the Caribbean,” Lopez Obrador said.
Biden responded by saying the U.S. has spent “tens of billions of dollars in the hemisphere” over the past 15 years. He added that the U.S. provides more foreign aid than every other country combined, to nations in central Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, according to NPR.
“Unfortunately, our response just doesn’t end in the Western Hemisphere,” Biden said. “It’s in central Europe. It’s in Asia. It’s in the Middle East. It’s in Africa. I wish we could just have one focus.”
Biden is simultaneously dealing with the continuation of the pandemic-era Title 42 policy instituted by the Trump administration and recently allowed to stay in place by the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily blocked an order that would lift it. The policy, which Biden admitted he doesn’t like, allows authorities to send migrants back over the border without going through a formal asylum process.
Newsweek reached out to the Trump 2024 campaign for comment.