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Image: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 28, 2023.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa's 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 28.Charlie Neibergall / AP

Tim Scott makes first border trip of campaign

He's the third major GOP presidential candidate to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months.


YUMA, Ariz. — Sen. Tim Scott marked his first trip to the border since announcing his presidential campaign with a roundtable of medical providers, law enforcement officers, farm workers and community leaders Friday.

The visit makes Scott the third 2024 contender to embark on a trip to the Southern border, which has become a common thread running through GOP campaigns for federal office in recent years. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have also visited the border in recent months.

Scott used the border event to express his support for building a wall and to attack the Biden administration for immigration policies he says led to a surge in border crossings and increased the flow of fentanyl into the country.

“I was at the border in 2019. And the thing that’s changed the most is Joe Biden coming into office has allowed for more than 6 million folks across our border illegally, and perhaps equally as important as the 70,000 Americans who have lost their lives to fentanyl,” Scott said.

When asked by NBC News whether former President Donald Trump’s latest indictment and ongoing legal troubles prevent issues like immigration from being at the forefront of the 2024 campaign, Scott deflected and instead attacked the Justice Department.

“My perspective is that the DOJ continues to weaponize their power against political opponents,” he said. “It seems like they spend a lot of time protecting Hunter Biden and Democrats and a lot of time hunting Republicans.”

Scott proposed investing $10 billion to complete a border wall with additional technological surveillance capabilities. He also called for reallocating money in the Inflation Reduction Act meant to bolster the Internal Revenue Service’s workforce to instead hire additional Customs and Border Patrol Agents. Scott also touted legislation he’s sponsored that would sanction drug traffickers and Chinese fentanyl suppliers, in the hope of reducing the flow of the drug at the border.

“I would sign the legislation I created that would freeze the assets of the Mexican cartels.” Scott said. “My bill has been passed through the Senate and hopefully will become law before this year is over.”

The bill, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, was included in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

If signed into law, the bill would mark Scott’s first successful legislative effort on immigration, an issue that he (and others) have achieved little on throughout his 12-plus years in Congress. He previously voted no on a sweeping immigration compromise put forward in 2013 by a bipartisan group of senators, and he has backed a “permanent, compassionate solution for DACA recipients” in exchange for securing the border.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the length of Sen. Tim Scott's tenure in Congress. He has been in Congress for 12-plus years, not 14 years.