Bipartisan criticism of Vice President Kamala Harris over her refusal to visit the chaotic U.S.-Mexico border continued over the weekend, as a noted Texas Democrat said he has yet to hear from her on the matter.
Rep. Henry Cueller, who represents Texas’ 28th Congressional District that includes some 300 miles of border, has repeatedly pressed the administration to do more to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling into the U.S. from south of the border.
On Saturday, the Texas Democrat said he invited Harris to tour the border last week so she could get a better sense of the situation after President Joe Biden assigned her the task of dealing with the crisis towards the end of March. He also suggested that the administration’s policies were, at least in part, responsible for the crisis.
“I encourage you to join me and other Members of Congress, while we visit with the people on the ground who deal with these issues every day,” Cuellar said in a letter to Harris. “I believe it is critical that you meet with local stakeholders and residents, consider their concerns, and use their lived experiences to implement more effective policies.”
It’s been nearly 90 days since Harris’s appointment — 88 as of Saturday — but she’s not yet taken the time to see the situation along the border for herself. In addition to Cuellar, other lawmakers, state officials, and law enforcement heads have extended a similar invite.
The Biden administration has repeatedly pushed back, saying that the vice president’s role is not ensuring physical security along the border but rather handling the diplomatic efforts. The White House also notes that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has visited the border in person.
However, those explanations haven’t sat well with House Republicans, as 56 GOP members signed on to a letter to the president last week requesting he reassign the border crisis to someone else in his administration who will take a more proactive role.
As for Cuellar, he told Fox News he’s gotten nothing but radio silence from the VP’s office.
“No, I haven’t I’ve not heard from her office, I have talked to the White House, my White House contacts, but I have not heard from her,” he said.
Asked by “Cavuto Live” guest host Charles Payne if he agreed with Harris’s focus on the “root causes” of mass migration to the U.S. — 180,000 encounters in May alone, or about the same number of people living in Little Rock, Ark. — the Texas Democrat agreed that was part of the issue. However, he said there are other aspects that have to be taken into consideration, adding that his constituents, including law enforcement, are “frustrated” at the administration’s inaction.
“But you just cannot focus only on the push factors. You’ve got to look at the pull factors. What policies do you have here at the border?” Cuellar said.
“Look, under the U.S. law right now, we have the right to deport people and we just got to follow the law. That is, people that can stay here will stay here, but people that we need to deport, deport them,” he explained.
“Because if we keep catch and release, this will provide a base incentive for more and more people to come in and they tell us to get richer and richer,” he added.
Cuellar also agreed that Biden’s campaign and pre-inaugural rhetoric about refusing to deport people who come to the U.S. illegally has contributed to the ongoing crisis.
“The rhetoric that came in from before the Inauguration, yes, that adds to it,” he said. “And now I understand the administration is saying now don’t come. But you have to couple that with action.”
Asked about the GOP letter demanding Biden replace Harris, the Texas Democrat said he believes the VP can do the job if she steps up.
“I think she can do the job. She just needs to get down to the border,” he told Payne. “You know, we’ve invited her. I hope she can come down. Otherwise, she should have not been appointed border czar by the president. And that’s the reality.”
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