‘Going Rather Smoothly:’ ‘Border Czar’ Vice President Kamala Harris Downplays Migrant Crisis During Georgia Fundraising Trip

Vice President Kamala Harris, the ‘border czar’ tasked by the White House to address the “root cause” of mass migration, attended a Friday fundraiser in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta less than 24 hours after Title 42 expired. 

V.P. Harris gave remarks as part of the Georgia spring soiree of the Democratic Party in Buckhead. However,  in her 20-minute speech, she did not mention immigration. The event occurred as thousands of migrants flooded the border after Title 42 expired. Title 42 was an emergency policy that allowed border officials to turn away migrants trying to cross into the U.S. 

“We fight for our democracy, for our founding principles as a nation based on our love of country, and Georgia, when we fight, we win,” said Harris. 

Harris was asked to respond to the GOP Party of Georgia’s statement on Harris’ visit to the fundraiser by a local Atlanta news outlet. The statement said it was “deplorable that the Vice President is coming to Atlanta for a fundraiser campaigning while the border crisis is overflowing and we have out-of-control inflation.”

“You know, I hear that everything in the last couple days is going rather smoothly, given what the concerns were,” said Harris. “The bottom line, however, is that this issue of immigration falls squarely within the responsibility of the United States Congress.”

The quick pivot by Harris to blaming Congress for the border crisis echoes Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, who pushed the same talking point a week ago. 

“There’s a very important message, not to communicate only to Senator Sinema but to all senators and all members of the House of Representatives: We need immigration reform,” said Mayorkas. “Everything that the Department of Homeland Security is doing, everything that our partners across the federal government are doing, is within a broken immigration system. The president passed to Congress a proposal to fix our broken immigration system on the first day in office.”

“Margaret, we have been pushing for immigration legislation since day one,” said Mayorkas to Margaret Brennan, host of “Face the Nation.” “And by the way, it didn’t start on day one — this is a decades-long problem. The immigration system hasn’t been fixed since the ’90s.”

Kelly Loeffler, a former Republican senator from Georgia, slammed the vice president’s visit to her state and said, “Collecting checks and congrats from liberal elites while border communities descend into chaos is not leadership.”

Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary, along with other Republican operatives, were also critical of the vice president’s Georgia visit after the expiration of Title 42. 

Since becoming ‘border czar, ‘ border encounters have hit all-time highs

Vice President Harris, who the GOP has dubbed President Biden’s “border czar,” was assigned the role by the president in March 2021 to address the mass migration. Since being named to the position, border encounters hit all-time highs, according to Customs and Border Protection, with as many as 250,000 in December 2022. 

The Biden administration planned to release migrants when detention centers hit capacity. However, a federal Florida judge blocked the administration from putting a policy allowing migrants to be released without court dates. 

Judge T. Kent Wetherell II imposed a two-week restraining order on the policy of the Biden administration, which may see migrants allowed to be released on “parole with conditions.”

The Border Patrol memo outlined this week’s policy, which states migrants can be allowed into the country on parole. The parole process is typically reserved for “urgent humanitarian reasons for significant public benefit” — the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is faced with overcrowding. 

The memo says the practice is “parole with conditions,” as migrants must make an appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or request a Notice to Appear by mail. 

The White House plans to focus on investments in Central America, address mass migration and encourage residents to stay in their home countries. 

Vice President Harris visited the border only once while vice president in June 2021. The visit was widely panned after her visit only happened three months after the president gave her the role. Earlier reports have revealed friction between Harris and Biden. 

“I don’t think that the president sees her as somebody who takes anything off of his plate,” said a former White House official, while adding a “fear of messing up” had caused the vice president to be late in joining important political fights, like the continuing border crisis.”