Vice President Kamala Harris’s border trip has come under fire as critics claim she was steering clear of areas that have been hit the hardest with the ongoing crisis.
Harris’ recent trip to El Paso, Texas was her first since being appointed as “border czar” by President Joe Biden 93 days ago. Harris had previously visited Mexico and Guatemala to discuss the root causes of the influx of migrants across the U.S. southern border.
Biden promised a more “humane approach” to immigration during his campaign. Harris emphasized that “if they stay, help is on the way.” After the inauguration, the number of people crossing the border exploded.
On her more recent trip, Harris toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in El Paso, Texas. There she met with staff and a group of five migrants girls ages 9 to 16.
According to Harris, the visit went well. “They were asking me questions, ‘How do you become the first woman vice president?’ She said the girls were “hopeful and optimistic.”
However, the trip was overshadowed by questions from the press and others about why Harris was not visiting the Rio Grande Valley, where many of the recent border apprehensions have happened.
In a recent interview, Harris was dismissive of the reporter’s questioning her absence of the border, saying she hadn’t been to Europe yet either.
She later explained that she felt focusing only on the border region is missing the point. “We cannot be simplistic and assume that there is only one element of way of approaching the overall problem,” she said.
Harris absent from the hardest-hit areas
Critics, including Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas have questioned why Harris visited El Paso instead of the Rio Grande Valley.
The area has been overwhelmed by recent border arrests. Harris said that the trip was to El Paso because it is where the Trump administration had begun its family separation policy.
Former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) chief Tom Homan said that Harris “needs to go to the epicenter of the crisis.”
“Instead of going there and talking to the men and women dealing with that crisis and taking care of thousands of unaccompanied children, she picks El Paso because she doesn’t want to see the devastation that her administration’s policies have caused,” Homan said.
“Now, El Paso, is seeing a rise in crossings, absolutely a rise in drug crossings, but when you look at the crisis, why would you not go to the epicenter and talk to the men and women of Border Patrol and see what’s going on?”
The Rio Grande Valley has seen a massive increase in large groups of migrants streaming across the border.
According to Border Patrol from the region, more groups have crossed into the United States in 2021 than in the past two years combined.
Rio Grande Valley Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings tweeted: “With three months remaining in the fiscal year, RGV has already matched the total number of large groups apprehended in the previous two fiscal years combined.”
Harris and the Biden administration have sought to blame the previous Trump administration, saying that it left an immigration system that was broken and only focused on enforcement and not the “root causes” of the mass migration.
Harris’ El Paso visit came a few days before former President Donald Trump’s previously announced border visit with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Trump charged that his impending visit prompted Harris to make a trip before him.