A group of 56 House Republicans has asked President Joe Biden to remove Vice President Kamala Harris from her lead role in handling the worsening crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border after she has repeatedly refused to go see the problem first-hand.
In a letter, the GOP lawmakers accused Harris of “inaction” as illegal crossings and cross-border drug smuggling reach unprecedented levels.
“Despite being in the midst of a border crisis this country has not seen in two decades, Vice President Harris has not yet shown adequate interest in observing this crisis first-hand,” the group, led by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), wrote.
“In the 85 days since the Vice President has been tasked with solving this crisis, she has yet to visit the border and meet with Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and local law enforcement officials,” the letter continued.
The @VP STILL hasn’t visited the border. You can’t truly know the situation until you speak with people on the ground. I and 55 of my colleagues sent this letter to @POTUS demanding her removal from this position because 180k encounters, a 21-year high, is unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/PJE0RpgTaV
— Rep. Glenn Grothman (@RepGrothman) June 17, 2021
— Rep. Glenn Grothman (@RepGrothman) June 17, 2021
Biden tapped Harris to be the administration’s ‘border czar’ on March 24.
“This new surge we’re dealing with now started with the last administration, but it’s our responsibility to deal with it humanely and to stop what’s happening,” Biden said at the time. “This increase has been consequential, but the vice president’s agreed – among the multiple other things I have her leading and I appreciate it – agreed to lead our diplomatic effort and work with those nations to accept the returnees and enhance migration enforcement at their borders.”
Harris has traveled recently to Guatemala and Mexico, where she announced hundreds of millions in new U.S. foreign aid designed to help those countries address the “root causes” of why so many people are fleeing their countries.
But despite repeated requests by lawmakers, governors, local law enforcement chiefs, and others, the vice president has yet to make an on-site visit to see the increasingly chaotic situation along portions of the border for herself.
And last month, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican who has since announced he is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, wrote to Biden requesting that he remove Harris as border lead.
“Vice President Harris has shown little interest in observing what is happening along the border and has failed to articulate any plan to deal with the devastating effects of this crisis. Mr. President, this is a slap in the face to Arizonians who helped elect you both to the highest offices in the land,” he wrote.
“The truth is that our border officials are overwhelmed, law enforcement is understaffed, and local ranchers live in daily fears of threats from Cartel operatives. The latest apprehension numbers from April shows that things are getting worse, and we do not yet know the full extent of dangerous people and drugs crossing into our communities,” Brnovich noted further.
He has also said he invited Harris to come to his state in April and tour the border herself, but that his office never received a response.
“I sent Vice President Harris a letter on April 2nd, personally inviting her to tour the border with me and to hear from the brave citizens on the ground,” he said in his letter to the president. “To date, I am very disappointed that I have not received a response from Vice President Harris or anyone in your administration.”
Harris’s team has responded to the criticism by saying they are frustrated and “dismayed” by what they claim is a “mischaracterization” of the VP’s role in dealing with the crisis. They claim her primary responsibility is to oversee the responses to the crisis rather than take more of a hands-on approach.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 2, 2021
“Republicans kind of seized on that confusion, and they made it seem as though Vice President Harris was going to be the new border czar,” CNN White House correspondent Natasha Bertrand said during a June 1 segment on the network. “That she was going to be responsible and be the envoy to the border, be responsible essentially for all of the problems that arise there.”
In their letter to Biden, the group of Republicans also lambasted the administration for enacting policies they say have led to the current crisis.
“This country cannot afford another minute of inaction from Vice President Harris,” the lawmakers argued. “While you have publicly defended the Vice President, even you must be discouraged with her inaction.”
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