Biden, Trump to visit U.S.-Mexico border on same day

U.S. President Joe Biden hosts a black-tie dinner for U.S. governors attending the National Governors Association
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By Steve Holland and Tim Reid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Joe Biden and Donald Trump will visit the U.S.-Mexico border on the same day this week, highlighting how illegal immigration has become one of the most important issues as they look towards a likely general election rematch in November.

Biden will travel to Brownsville, Texas on Thursday to meet with U.S. Border Patrol agents, law enforcement, and local leaders, a White House official said.

On the same day, Republican former President Trump, who has been highly critical of his Democratic successor's border policy and the number of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S., will visit Eagle Pass in Texas, a Trump campaign aide said.

Trump is close to securing the Republican presidential nomination after a series of primary victories over former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, his last remaining rival. Trump is now focusing his attacks on Biden, with polls showing Biden vulnerable over the issue of illegal immigration.

The Democratic president's approval rating sank to 38% in January as concerns over immigration flared, the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.

The poll found rising concern about immigration, with 17% of respondents listing it as the most important problem facing the U.S. today, up sharply from 11% who cited as the most pressing issue in December. It was the top concern of Republican respondents, with 36% citing it as their main worry, above the 29% who cited the economy.

Biden's administration has struggled to cope with a surge of asylum seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border, while Republicans in Congress, egged on by Trump, have threatened to scuttle a bipartisan attempt to tackle the problem.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pressing ahead with an effort to impeach Biden's top border official, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

On Thursday, Biden will discuss the urgent need to pass the Senate's bipartisan border security agreement, according to a White House official. Biden has been blaming Trump for urging House Republicans to block the effort.

A Trump aide said the fact the Biden is visiting the border on the same day as the former Republican president "shows just how big of a problem this is for him".

The U.S. president will reiterate calls for congressional Republicans to provide the funding needed for additional U.S. Border Patrol agents, more asylum officers, fentanyl detection technology, and more, the White House official said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Tim Reid ; Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Heinrich)