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Immigration Takes Center Stage in 2024 Presidential Campaign: A Closer Look at the First Presidential Debate

Posted by Paul Saluja | Jun 28, 2024

As the 2024 presidential campaign intensifies, immigration remains a pivotal issue for voters. This was evident during the first presidential debate on Thursday night, where President Joe Biden and presumptive GOP nominee Donald J. Trump clashed over their immigration policies.

Biden Defends His Administration's Handling of Immigration

President Biden faced tough questions about his administration's handling of the largest number of migrant encounters at the southern border in two decades. During the 90-minute debate at CNN in Atlanta, Biden defended his record and blamed Trump for derailing a bipartisan U.S. Senate border security deal.

“We worked very hard to get a bipartisan agreement,” Biden said, highlighting his efforts to forge alliances across the aisle. He argued that the ability to reach such agreements is a testament to his leadership and a reason for his reelection.

The Bipartisan Border Security Deal: A Missed Opportunity

The debate spotlighted a significant bipartisan border security deal that Senate Republicans rejected earlier this year, siding with their House colleagues and Trump. The proposed agreement aimed to overhaul U.S. immigration law, including a temporary procedure to shut down the border during active times and raising the bar for asylum claims.

Trump criticized Biden's reliance on legislation, asserting that he had successfully enacted policy changes without it. “I didn't have legislation, I said close the border,” Trump stated, emphasizing his direct approach to immigration control.

Biden's Executive Order: A Drastic Crackdown

In early June, Biden issued an executive order instituting a partial ban on asylum proceedings at the southern border. This move marked the most drastic crackdown on immigration of his administration. Trump dismissed the action as “insignificant,” though Biden defended its impact.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reported a significant decline in migrant encounters following Biden's executive order. In a briefing from Tucson, Arizona, Mayorkas stated, “The Tucson sector has seen a more than 45 percent drop in U.S. Border Patrol encounters since the president took action, and repatriations of encountered individuals in Tucson have increased by nearly 150 percent.” He added that across the entire southern border, encounters had dropped by over 40 percent.

The 'Remain in Mexico' Policy and Family Separations

Trump cited his previous policies, such as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, and criticized Biden for rolling them back. He accused Biden of making the country unsafe and blamed immigrants for crime, a claim not supported by recent FBI statistics which show a 15% decline in overall violent crime. Research also indicates that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.

Biden, on the other hand, condemned Trump's “zero-tolerance” policy, which led to the separation of parents from their children. “When he was president, he was separating babies from their mothers and putting them in cages,” Biden said, underscoring the inhumanity of the approach.

The Tragic Case of Laken Riley

Trump referenced the tragic case of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student whose death he attributed to Biden's immigration policies. Riley's murder by a Venezuelan immigrant, who had entered the country without authorization in 2022, led to the passing of the Laken Riley Act by U.S. House Republicans.

Mass Deportations: Trump's Bold Promise

When asked how he would carry out mass deportations, Trump did not provide details but reiterated his intent to utilize local law enforcement, the National Guard, and potentially the U.S. military. “We have to get a lot of these people out and we got to get them out fast because they're destroying our country,” Trump said, maintaining a hardline stance.


The debate underscored the stark differences between Biden and Trump on immigration policy. As the campaign progresses, immigration will undoubtedly remain a central issue, with both candidates offering contrasting visions for the future of the United States. At Saluja Law, we continue to monitor these developments closely, providing updates and insights to help you navigate the complex landscape of immigration law.

At Saluja Law, we are committed to keeping you informed about the latest in immigration policy and law. Stay tuned for more updates as the 2024 presidential campaign unfolds.

About the Author

Paul Saluja

Paul Saluja is a distinguished legal professional with over two decades of experience serving clients across a spectrum of legal domains. Graduating from West Virginia State University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, he continued his academic journey at Ohio Northern University, gr...

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