President Biden is not scheduled to visit the southern border during his trip to Arizona on Tuesday — a decision criticized by both conservative and progressive immigration experts.
The White House schedule states that Biden will visit Phoenix to tout his economic initiatives, but there is no mention of a stop at the border, which is just over 100 miles away.
Biden has not gone to the border as president, despite soaring illegal immigration, gruesome human trafficking and massive quantities of fentanyl illegally entering the U.S.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last month that "he’s been there," but she may have been referring to trips Biden made to the border before becoming president. Officials did not respond to a request on when Biden supposedly visited the border.
Biden's Tuesday trip "is about the American manufacturing boom we're seeing all across the country, thanks to… his economic policies," Jean-Pierre told FOX Business Network's Edward Lawrence at a White House briefing on Monday. "We should be able to reach a bipartisan agreement on immigration, too, and that's what we're calling for, right? We're asking for Republican officials to come and work with us, and let's have a bipartisan agreement on immigration instead of doing political stunts."
Former President Trump visited the border on five occasions as president. Tom Homan, the director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump and a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said Biden’s refusal to visit the border is a betrayal to agents who put their lives at risk to enforce his policies.
"If Biden does not visit the border while in Arizona and talk to the men and women who risk their lives every day during a historic border security crisis, then he will show he has truly abandoned the agency that works 24/7 to keep this country safe," Homan told Fox News Digital. "What kind of commander-in-chief abandons those on the front line because of politics? The fact is, Joe Biden won’t visit the border because he doesn’t want to be confronted with the reality of the destruction his policies have caused."
This criticism of Biden’s lack of focus on the southern border has frustrated progressive groups as well. Alexandra Miller, the director of the Immigration Justice Campaign for the American Immigration Council, said Biden needs to witness the impact of cruel federal immigration policies.
"In coming to Arizona, President Biden has an important opportunity to bear witness to the cruelty that migrants are experiencing at the border and to see the hard work that humanitarian organizations, legal service providers and other good Samaritans are doing at the border every day," Miller told Fox News Digital. "Unfortunately, it looks like this opportunity will be missed."
Border encounters between U.S. law enforcement and illegal crossers hit a record yearly high under the Biden administration in 2021 at 1.7 million, and it has already hit a new high this year at 2.3 million. Border agents have been able to turn these migrants away under Title 42 — a pandemic-inspired policy established by the Trump administration that is set to expire this month. Biden administration officials predict that record-high border encounters may double without Title 42 and reportedly may adopt a near-identical policy that allows them to turn away migrants if they are able to gain refuge in a country they passed through to get to the U.S. border.
Gene Hamilton, the vice president of America First Legal and a former senior counselor to the secretary of Homeland Security, said the U.S. is experiencing an unprecedented border crisis that is overlooked by its leader.
"President Biden's absence from the border on this trip shows us he is committed to failure, to open borders and to a post-Westphalian order that leads to a weakened United States," Hamilton told Fox News Digital. "Every nation has the right to protect its borders, and the United States is no different, yet President Biden has presided over a catastrophic collapse of border security unparalleled in modern times."
Vice President Kamala Harris was assigned the mission of addressing the "root cause" of mass migration to the southern border, where she has made a single visit since taking office. She said in September that "the border is secure." Chris Magnus, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), was asked to resign last month and granted the request.
Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy for the Center for Immigration Studies, said it is time for Biden to acknowledge the border crisis.
"Perhaps the president is ignorant of the carnage he is inflicting, but due to his failure to travel to the Mexican border and see the consequences of his actions — and inactions — himself, he has only himself and his advisers to blame," Arthur told Fox News Digital.
The morale of CBP officers has become a growing concern. Fourteen officers committed suicide this year — the highest total in more than a decade. Christopher Olivarez, a staff lieutenant for the Texas Highway Patrol, said it is crucial for the Biden administration to see the result of its policies.
"It is imperative that leadership from the federal government visit the southern border," Olivarez told Fox News Digital. "Discussions with border residents, ranchers, law enforcement and public officials are the only way to understand the magnitude of this current border crisis and develop comprehensive strategies that effectively implement a controlled immigration process."