Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and former President Donald J. Trump denounced the Biden administration during a visit to the border on Wednesday, reiterating one of Republicans’ most frequent lines of attack.
In what was effectively a news conference, Mr. Abbott and other officials described the border situation to Mr. Trump as though briefing a sitting president. Several House Republicans, including Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, traveled to the border for Mr. Trump’s visit, missing a vote in the House on establishing a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
“The people of Texas have been pleading for us to be able to step up and help restore safety and security in their lives,” Mr. Abbott said. “That is exactly why Texas is stepping up and doing a job that is truly the federal government’s job, a job that you did but a job that the Biden administration is completely failing.”
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the sheriffs of Tarrant and Brooks Counties gave presentations on the recent increase in illegal border crossings and the threats posed by Mexican gangs and drug cartels.
Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn of Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth and is more than 350 miles from the border, described a recent increase in smuggling of the opioid drug fentanyl and told Mr. Trump, “A year ago, fentanyl was barely on our radar.” (Border Patrol officials have reported a drastic increase in the amount of fentanyl seized this year, but the numbers began rising three years ago.)
When it was Mr. Trump’s turn, he delivered a rambling speech defending his handling of the border while president and falsely claiming that the wall he repeatedly promised to build across the 2,000-mile border had been months away from completion when he left office. The Trump administration built roughly 450 miles of border wall, nearly all of it in areas where dilapidated barriers existed or vehicle barriers had once stood.
Mr. Biden halted border wall construction on his first day as president.
“Within a few months you would have had the wall totally complete and they were going to paint it,” Mr. Trump said. “They were supposed to paint the wall. They aren’t even doing that. They got to get a coat of paint on the wall. Believe it or not, it does rust. Maybe that’s what they like — let it rust, let it rot.”
The issue of border security has dogged the Biden administration as border crossings have surged. Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Mr. Biden put in charge of addressing the root causes of migration, traveled to El Paso, her first visit to the southern border since she took office. Ms. Harris received a briefing from Customs and Border Protection and met with girls detained at a border facility.