EDINBURG, Texas (Border Report) — Former President Donald Trump emphasized the need for border security and tougher immigration policies, and he praised Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott during a visit Sunday to the South Texas border.

“He is doing what the federal government is supposed to be doing and I am telling you, Mr. Governor: I am going to make your job much easier. You’ll be able to focus on other things in Texas. We love Texas and what they’ve done is very unfair. They’ve given the job to you; It’s a job of security for our country. It’s a job of stopping an invasion because it’s an invasion,” Trump said after passing out holiday meals to border law enforcement, including the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

Abbott on Sunday announced he was endorsing Trump again for the Republican presidential nomination.

“Joe Biden has failed at national security. I’m here to tell you that there is no way — no way — that American can continue under the leadership of Joe Biden,” Abbott said. ” We need a president who will secure the border. We need a president who will restore law and order in the United States of America.”

Abbott said that when he was president, Trump reduced levels of migrants crossing the border illegally from Mexico into Texas by implementing the “Remain in Mexico,” or Migrant Protection Protocols program; eliminating “catch and release;” stopping asylum-seekers from crossing onto U.S. soil via Title 42 during the pandemic, and building miles of border wall along the Rio Grande.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, left, listens as Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump, right, speaks to Texas state troopers and guardsmen during a Thanksgiving meal at the South Texas International Airport, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Edinburg, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“And then in came Joe Biden and Joe Biden eliminated all those policies that were put in place by President Trump and because of that what has happened to our country has been catastrophic,” Abbott said.

Abbott referenced the record 2.4 million migrant encounters along the Southwest border in Fiscal Year 2023, which ended in September. This followed historic levels the previous fiscal year of 2.3 million encounters, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

“Our country is going to hell,” said Trump, who lost to Biden in 2020.

(CBP Graphic)

Trump stressed that border infrastructure, like a border wall, deters illegal entries into the country.

“Wheels and walls work. We don’t need the wheels but we need the walls and they work,” Trump said.

He congratulated Abbott for Texas spending billions to build miles of border wall, and sending troopers to patrol the Rio Grande as part of Operation Lone Star.

“Texas is having to step up at a level they’ve never had to do before,” Trump said, adding if he wins the party’s nomination and re-election then: “We’re going to take over the border and make it the most secure border in our history.”

“Your great governor has done everything in his power to do for this state,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said in introducing Abbott on Sunday. “And what’s funny is that the more he does a great job, the more the woke mob, fueled by the mainstream media  goes after him.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott endorses Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump during an event at the South Texas International Airport Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Edinburg, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Abbott accused Biden of “fighting back against his own Border Patrol.”

This was a reference to DHS immigration policy changes under the Biden administration, like the lifting of Title 42, and granting of humanitarian parole and Temporary Protected Status to certain migrant groups, like Haitians, Honduras and Nicaraguans, according to DHS.

As a result, Abbott said border law enforcement must sacrifice their families during the holidays.

“Everyone likes to be with their families during Thanksgiving. That includes DPS and National Guard and Border Patrol, but they cannot be with their families at home. They cannot do what most Americans in Texas would do in times of Thanksgiving because they are called to serve the United States and the State of Texas by working collectively to secure our border,” Abbott said.

Abbott also criticized the Department of Justice for filing a lawsuit over the mile-long $1 million marine border barrier that was put in the Rio Grande in a section of Eagle Pass, Texas, to deter illegal immigration.

“Greg Abbott is going to win that lawsuit. I can tell you that much,” Abbott said.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa criticized Trump’s visit and comments saying: “Here in Texas, we have a front-row seat to what happens when Republican politicians like Greg Abbott use human beings as political props. Trump’s immigration plans for 2025 will only further empower Texas Republicans’ cruelty and do nothing to solve the challenges Texas communities are facing. Texas Democrats vehemently oppose Trump’s extreme and cruel anti-immigration policies that could once again separate families, reinstate racist travel bans, divide our country, and hurt Latino communities.”

Melina Roche, campaign manager for the Welcome With Dignity Campaign, said over the past two years, Operation Lone Star has spent over $10 billion in taxpayer state funds, including $1.5 billion to build more border wall.

“The federal government must intervene and put a stop to the state of Texas’s continued assault on the asylum system,” Roche said. “This is an assault on the notion that America is a beacon of hope for people seeking refuge.”

“We urge the Biden administration to challenge Operation Lone Star once and for all,” said Dylan Corbett, the Hope Border Institute executive director.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.