EAGLE PASS: Billionaire Elon Musk waded into the US immigration debate on Thursday, paying a visit to the Texas border with Mexico to meet with local politicians and law enforcement and obtain what he called an “unfiltered” view of the situation.
Musk’s visit came as thousands of migrants have ventured to northern Mexico in recent days on freight trains and buses, then crossed the US border into Texas, Arizona and California in an upswing in arrivals of people seeking asylum in the US.
The sharp increase, notably around San Diego, California, and the Texas border towns of El Paso and Eagle Pass, follows an earlier lull in unauthorised border crossings following a new asylum policy imposed by Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration to discourage such activity.
Musk visited Eagle Pass, where throngs of migrants have for several days been wading across the Rio Grande near a railroad bridge in Eagle Pass, undeterred by coils of razor wire placed along the river banks by the Texas National Guard.
Dressed in a black T-shirt, black cowboy hat and aviator-style sunglasses, Musk urged a two-pronged approach to overhauling US immigration laws in a video-selfie posted to the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which he purchased last April.
He called for an “expedited legal approval” as part of a “greatly expanded legal immigration system” that welcomes “hard-working and honest” migrants, while also barring entry for those who are “breaking the law.”
“We want to do both things – smooth out legal immigration and stop a flow of people that is of such magnitude that we’re leading to a collapse of social services,” Musk said.
Musk, a native of South Africa, noted his own status as an “immigrant to the US” and called himself “extremely pro-immigrant.”
Chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk has increasingly injected himself into American politics.
He hosted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s launch of his Republican presidential campaign on Twitter in May, crashing the service. He said earlier this month that he had refused a Ukrainian request to use his Starlink satellite network to aid in its defense against Russia and met last week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged him to balance protecting free speech and fighting hate speech on X.
In the 4-minute video clip, he introduced US representative Tony Gonzales, a Republican from Texas whose district spans more than 800 miles of the border, who welcomed Musk and said people along the Texas border “really feel abandoned.”
Musk has more than a small interest in the Texas economy. Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas plant is located in Austin and Space X operates a major testing and launch facility on Texas Gulf Coast in Boca Chica near Brownsville.