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Trump picks up the endorsement of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a visit to a US-Mexico border town

The endorsement Sunday comes as the former president campaigns on a hard-line immigration agenda that would be far more expansive than the policies he pursued during his first term in the White House

Donald Trump helps serve food to Texas National Guard soldiers, troopers and others, on Nov. 19, 2023, in Edinburg, Texas.
Donald Trump helps serve food to Texas National Guard soldiers, troopers and others, on Nov. 19, 2023, in Edinburg, Texas.Eric Gay (AP)

Donald Trump picked up the Texas governor’s endorsement Sunday during a visit to a U.S.-Mexico border town and promised that his hard-line immigration policies in a second presidential term would make Greg Abbott’s “job much easier.” “You’ll be able to focus on other things in Texas,” Trump told Abbott as they each appeared before a crowd of about 150 at an airport hangar in Edinburg.

Abbott, a longtime ally and fellow border hawk, said he was proud to endorse the former president, who is the Republican Party’s front-runner for the 2024 nomination. “We need a president who’s going to secure the border,” Abbott said, speaking in a town that is about 30 miles from the Hidalgo Port of Entry crossing with Mexico. “We need Donald J. Trump back as our president of the United States of America.”

Earlier, Trump served meals to Texas National Guard soldiers, troopers and others who will be stationed at the border over Thanksgiving. Trump and Abbott handed out tacos, and the former president shook hands and posed for pictures.

“What you do is incredible, and you want it to be done right,” Trump told them.

Abbott said about the Guard members and Texas troopers who are stationed at the border: “They should not be here at this time. They should be at home.” He said that “the only reason why they are here is because we have a president of the United States of America who is not securing our border.”

Trump has been laying out immigration proposals that would mark a dramatic escalation of the approach he used in office and that drew alarms from civil rights activists and numerous court challenges. Though Trump has peppered campaign speeches with his immigration plans, he only made brief remarks in border country on Sunday. He spoke for only about 10 minutes against a backdrop of state police choppers, a plane and an armed patrol boat — all sued by Texas at the border.

Trump did not get into the policies he would pursue if elected. He did complain about inflation, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and news media coverage. He said most technology outside of wheels and walls eventually becomes obsolete.

“We just need the walls. And it worked,” Trump said. His plan calls for building more of the wall along the border.

Trump has made frequent trips to the border as a candidate and president. During his 2016 campaign, he traveled to Laredo, Texas in July 2015 for a visit that highlighted how his views on immigration helped him win media attention and support from the GOP base.

The border has also become a centerpiece of Abbott’s agenda and the subject of an escalating fight with the Biden administration over immigration. The three-term governor has approved billions of dollars in new border wall construction, authorized razor wire on the banks of the Rio Grande and bused thousands of migrants to Democrat-led cities across the United States.

Abbott is expected to soon sign what would be one of Texas’ most aggressive measures to date: a law that allows police officers to arrest migrants suspected of entering the country illegally and empowers judges to effectively deport them. The measure is a dramatic challenge to the U.S. government’s authority over immigration. It already has drawn rebuke from Mexico.

Still, the Texas GOP’s hard right has not always embraced Abbott. Trump posted on his social media platform earlier this year that the governor was “MISSING IN ACTION!” after Republicans voted to impeach Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Trump ally. Abbott was also booed at a 2022 Trump rally.

But Abbott’s navigation within the GOP has built him broad support in Texas, where he has outperformed more strident Republicans down-ballot and helped the GOP make crucial inroads with Hispanic voters.

Democrats tried to use the trip to portray Trump’s plans as extreme.

“Donald Trump is going after immigrants, our rights our safety and our democracy. And that is what really is on the ballot last year,” Biden reelection campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez said on a conference call with reporters.

Pollings show many voters aren’t satisfied with the Biden administration’s handling of the border.

A Marquette Law School poll of registered voters conducted in late September gave Trump a 24-point advantage over Biden on handling immigration and border security issues — 52% to 28%.

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